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Bridge 6/27
Clear the way to your winners
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    This is another deal in which the optimist fails after assuming everything will be for the best in the best of all possible worlds. But the pessimist — or would you prefer "realist"? — works out how to overcome adversity.
    You are in three no-trump. West leads his fourth-highest club. How would you plan the play?
    North, with a balanced hand, 10 high-card points and one extra point for his fifth diamond, has a textbook raise to three no-trump. Remember, when two balanced hands are opposite each other, diamonds are reserved for engagement rings and tennis bracelets, not for bidding!
    When in no-trump, count your top tricks first. Here, you have four obvious ones (two spades, one heart and one club) plus at least one more in clubs, given the opening lead. To make your contract, though, you will need to establish and run dummy's delightful diamonds.
    This will not be a problem if an opponent has a singleton or doubleton diamond ace, or has never heard of the holdup play. But if this East knows enough to keep his ace until the third round of the suit, you will need a dummy entry to reach the last two diamonds. And what is that entry?
    Yes, the spade queen might drop in one or two rounds, but that is unlikely. The club suit guarantees a dummy entry -- but only if you win the first trick in your hand with the ace, not on the board with the 10. Then you drive out the diamond ace.
    Let's suppose East shifts to the heart nine. Duck this trick, win the next, and play a club to force your way into the dummy.
    Always watch your entries.
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