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Bridge 4/17
High lead weak, low lead strong
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    French physiologist Claude Bernard said, "A fact in itself is nothing. It is valuable only for the idea attached to it, or for the proof that it furnishes."
    At the bridge table, a fact can be nothing if you fail to understand it or to act correctly on it.
    This deal is a good example. You are East, defending against three no-trump. West leads the heart nine: three, ace, six. How would you continue the defense?
    North, with no singleton or void and game-only values, was right to raise directly to three no-trump, not go hunting for game in a minor.
    What does West's heart-nine lead tell you?
    With standard leads, a nine is always top of nothing. (Remember Boston: Bottom of Something, Top of Nothing. A fourth-highest lead guarantees at least one honor in that suit. With no honor, lead a high card.)
    Given that South has the king and queen of hearts, there is no future in that suit. You should look elsewhere for more fertile fields. Both your hand and the dummy strongly suggest a shift to the spade queen. Here, that nets the first five tricks for the defense.
    Finally, note that South should drop a heart honor at trick one, trying to look like someone who started with the doubleton king-queen. That would probably persuade East to return the heart jack, which would be the only defense if West had the diamond ace and declarer the spade ace. Here, though, South would run for home with one heart, five diamonds and three clubs.
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