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Bridge 7/10
Third hand takes front stage
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    In 1513 Machiavelli wrote, "There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the second appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless."
    At the bridge table, it is pointless for the opening leader to find the best start if third hand is going to make a useless mistake.
    This deal highlights one key third-hand play. South is in four spades. West leads the club two. How should the defense proceed?
    That North hand is good news — five-card spade support — and bad news — only six high-card points and no singleton or void. If West passes over South's one-spade opening, there is a good case for North's raising only to two spades. But over a takeout double, there is much more to recommend jumping to four spades to make life as tough as possible for East. Here, it does not matter, because South would raise two spades to four.
    At trick one East is playing third hand high. With touching cards, he plays the bottom. Here, East must table his jack.
    South wins with his ace and plays a trump, putting West back on lead. Since the first trick marked East with the club queen, West should continue with a low club. Then East, after winning with his queen, can shift to the heart nine, giving the defense four tricks.
    Note that if West does not underlead at trick three, declarer gets 10 tricks via four spades, four diamonds, one club and one club ruff on the board.
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