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Bridge 2/15
The unusual can work...unusually
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Alfred North Whitehead, an English mathematician and Idealist philosopher who died in 1947, claimed: "It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious."
    South's spade holding is a common card combination. Does it require the usual handling, or something unusual? You are the declarer in three no-trump. West leads the spade king. What would be your plan?
    North's raise to three no-trump is an acceptable gamble. If South has the club king, that is six tricks.     Surely South can produce three more. If South does not have the club king, perhaps the finesse will win.
You start with eight top tricks: one spade, one heart and six clubs. One more could come from spades, hearts or diamonds.
    But first let's look at this spade suit. Often, with A-J-x, you duck when the king is led on your left. You hope that lefty will play another round, giving you two tricks in the suit. Customarily, if you take the first trick, your right-hand opponent gains the lead early in the play and pushes a spade through your remaining J-x, permitting the defenders to run the suit. This duck is called the Bath Coup because it was first worked out in Bath, England, during the days of whist. But because the spade 10 is on the board, the defenders cannot run the suit if you take the first trick. Then it is simplest to return a low spade toward dummy's 10, immediately establishing your ninth trick.
    Note that if you duck the first trick, you will fail if West shifts to a diamond, and East, after winning the trick, leads back a spade.
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