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Bridge 9/5
The key card is the nine-spot
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    Marcus Terentius Varro, who died in 27 B.C., said, "The number of guests at dinner should not be less than the number of the Graces nor exceed that of the Muses. That is, it should begin with three and stop at nine." Do you agree?
    Most people would feel that is a reasonable guideline, but presumably "three's a crowd" had not reached his ears. And four for bridge would not have occurred to him, since he was born nearly 2,000 years before the game was invented. But we should not hold that against him.
    In this deal, you are in four spades after East has overcalled in hearts. West leads the heart nine — there's that number again. How would you plan the play?
    North's three-spade rebid was a tad pushy, but two hearts would have been more of an underbid. And, as we all know, it pays to push for game.
    You have four potential losers: two diamonds and two clubs. Obviously, since East bid, it would be reasonable to assume he has the club ace. If, though, you sneak a peek at the full deal, you will see that West inconsiderately holds that card. Is there something more reliable?
    What is the heart position? From West's heart-nine lead, you know that East must have the king and 10. So, cover West's nine with dummy's queen and capture East's king with your ace. Draw trumps ending on the board, then play a heart to your eight. Cash the heart jack, discarding a club from the dummy, and play on diamonds. You lose only two diamonds and one club.
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