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Posted on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, April 25: Go for two chances, not just one

By Phillip Alder

Oscar Wilde claimed, "The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable."

The bridge world is divided into two classes, those who believe in analyzing a deal fully, and those who do the obvious.

In this deal, the first group would do much better than the second. How should the play go in three no-trump after West leads the spade queen to South's king?

North used Stayman to try to find a 4-4 heart fit, then settled for the nine-trick game. Although here five diamonds would have made, why force yourself to have to win 11 tricks for the game bonus when nine will suffice?

South starts with eight top tricks: two spades, two hearts, three diamonds and one club.

The obvious place to go for a ninth winner is the diamond suit. This requires only a 3-2 split, which the mathematicians will tell you occurs 67.8 percent of the time. And some players would immediately attack that suit, going down when it breaks 4-1.

There is a second chance: hearts 3-3. Admittedly, that is only a 35.53 percent shot, but it does not hurt to give it a try, keeping diamonds on the back burner. At trick two, declarer should duck a heart. He wins the next spade and cashes his top hearts. When they are 3-3, he is trying diamonds for overtricks. But if hearts prove to be 4-2 or worse, the diamond suit is still available.

The chance of success has risen to 79.24 percent.

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