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Bridge 6/19
Spot the key spots to unblock the suit
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    Painter Robert Motherwell, who died in 1991, wrote, "If you can't find your inspiration by walking around the block one time, go around two blocks — but never three."
    This week we are looking at deals where it is important not to block one suit. That is bad enough. Can you imagine having to worry about two blocked suits or, even worse, three? It brings to mind the face in Edvard Munch's "The Scream."
    Here, you are South, in three no-trump. West leads the spade king. What would be your plan?
    The auction is simple and quantitative. You show a balanced hand with 15-17 points, and North, knowing of at least 25 combined points, jumps to game.
    As always, count your top tricks first. There are seven: one spade, three hearts and three diamonds. And, as long as the East-West diamonds are dividing 2-2 or 3-1, there appear to be nine easy tricks. But there is a potential blockage in the diamond suit. As your only hand entry has been removed by the spade lead, you must be careful to unblock the board's seven, eight and nine of diamonds under your ace, king and queen. Then your four can squash dummy's three, leaving you in hand to win the fifth diamond trick with your two. Watch those spots!
    This is one of my favorite deals. When I run it in classes and declarer cashes the diamond ace, often the dummy will illegally remove the diamond three without waiting to be asked. That is a partner for the scrap heap! However, once in every two or three blue moons, the dummy illegally plays the diamond nine under the ace. That is a partner to harbor.
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