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Bridge 1/25
A new position with the queen absent
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    This week, we are looking at some suit combinations that arise with a reasonable frequency, but that are mishandled by many players.
    Over the last three days, we studied 4-4 fits with the key queen missing. Today, the trump queen is still absent, but we now have the luxury of a 10-card fit.
    Against your four-spade contract, West leads the diamond nine. East takes two tricks in the suit, then shifts to the club jack, West winning with his ace and returning a club. How would you continue?
    North responds with a game-invitational limit raise, showing four-plus spades and 10-12 support points. (He has nine losers, which is the normal number for a single raise. But with 12 high-card points, North must upgrade his hand — and nod learnedly if partner raises to game with a six-loser hand, and four spades turns out to have no play.)
    It looks so easy: Draw trumps in two rounds and claim. And it is true that 78 percent of the time, spades will be 2-1. But it cannot hurt to give East a chance to hang himself. Cross to the board with a heart, then call for the spade jack. If East plays low smoothly, go up with your ace — and here go down one. However, East might cover with his queen. If he does, win with your ace, return to dummy with another heart, and play a spade to your nine, taking the marked finesse.
    Agreed, East should play low (against a sneaky, psychic South, West will have a singleton spade king), but opponents love to make errors if you give them half a chance.
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