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Bridge 2/13
Is this an echo or a variation?
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    In his song "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush," Steve Winwood included this line: "The race is on, I'm out to win, before I start I must begin."
    That obviously applies to bridge. The card play is a race. The declarer and the defense are trying to collect the necessary number of tricks to make or break the contract. And both sides should begin by forming a plan, then start to play.
    You are South, declarer in three no-trump. West leads the same card that was chosen the last two days: the heart six. What would be your plan? Do not be impulsive. Always think before playing from the dummy at trick one.
    The auction is straightforward, with North expecting the contract to be easy.
    You have eight top tricks: three spades, one heart and four diamonds. The ninth trick is available in clubs, but you must lose the lead once. Perhaps the opponents, when they win with the club ace, can cash enough heart tricks to defeat you.
    There is a natural reaction to hold up the heart ace for one round, but you should consider the situation analytically, not blindly.
    If the hearts are 4-3, you are in no danger; you will lose at most three hearts and one club. So assume the hearts are 5-2. This means that East surely has king-doubleton or queen-doubleton. (If East has two low hearts, West, with K-Q-J-x-x, would have led the king.) You can block the suit by winning immediately with dummy's ace. But note that if you hold up dummy's ace, you will go down if the hearts are 5-2 and West has the club ace — as here.
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