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Bridge 3/13
The right card is a key to defense
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    English novelist George Eliot pointed out that all meanings depend on the key of interpretation.
    That is certainly true at the bridge table. A bid is dangerous if partner will not understand its intended meaning. A defensive lead or signal will usually work well only if partner deciphers it correctly — as in this deal.
    How should East and West card to defeat three no-trump? West leads his spade five: seven, nine, king. South attacks clubs.
    South's two-no-trump rebid shows a minimum balanced hand with at least one spade stopper. North should raise to three no-trump. Rarely would five of a minor make and three no-trump fail.
    From East's play of the spade nine at trick one, West knows that South began with the ace and king of spades. And once the club ace has been dislodged, declarer has at least nine tricks ready to run: two spades, two diamonds and five clubs.
    The only chance for the defense is immediately to take four heart tricks. So, after winning with his club ace, West must shift to the heart two.
    But when East wins with his ace, how does he know to lead back a heart, not a spade? If West started with ace-jack-fifth of spades, it would be vital to return the spade 10.
    This is the key: When you switch to your lowest (fourth-highest) card in the middle of the play, you are telling partner you wish to try to win tricks in that suit. If West had had strong spades, he would have led a high heart, not the two.
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