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Bridge 1/26
An unlikely option that works
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At Rosa Parks' funeral in 2005, Jennifer Granholm, the Michigan governor, said, "Her greatness lay in doing what everybody could do but doesn't."
This week, we are looking at suit combinations that tend to be misplayed. Today's spade suit is another. Everybody could get it right, but many do not. How would you play it for two tricks?
    The auction is straightforward, but suppose North's black suits are interchanged. Should North use Stayman to look for a 4-4 spade fit, or jump to three no-trump?
    It could be right to play in four spades, especially if the opener has a weak doubleton in diamonds. But the percentage action is to bid three no-trump. For one thing, you do not give the opponents extra information about declarer's hand.
    Against three no-trump, West leads his fourth-highest heart. You have eight top tricks: one spade, two hearts, one diamond and four clubs. You need a second spade trick.
    Many would lead low to the queen — a 50-50 shot. However, there is a 63 percent play available — start by leading low to your nine. If East has the 10 and jack of spades, your nine will bring out West's king (or take the trick if East has all three honors). But if the nine loses to West's 10 or jack, you can try a spade to the queen on the second round, having lost nothing (except perhaps an extra undertrick or two if West also has the spade king).
    So, win the first trick on the board with the heart king (don't duck, lest East shifts to a diamond) and play a spade to your nine. Here, that brings home the contract.
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