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Posted on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, December 22: They are mean, but you are meaner

By Phillip Alder

David Viscott, a psychiatrist and author who died in 1996, said: "To fail is a natural consequence of trying. To succeed takes time and prolonged effort in the face of unfriendly odds. To think it will be any other way, no matter what you do, is to invite yourself to be hurt and to limit your enthusiasm for trying again."

I wonder if he was also a bridge player. In today's deal, declarer seems doomed to defeat after the defenders start well. However, if South spends some time looking for a line that will work, he will succeed in the face of unfavorable odds.

South is in four spades. West leads the diamond queen. East overtakes with his king, cashes the ace, and shifts to the heart jack. How should declarer continue?

North made a game-invitational limit raise. South went for the vulnerable game, hoping for the best.

If East held the heart king, he would not have captured both diamond tricks; he would have overtaken at trick one and returned a low diamond at trick two for a heart shift through dummy's ace. So there is no point in South's playing his queen.

However, although it looks as if declarer is destined to lose one heart, two diamonds and one club, he has one chance: West has fewer than three clubs.

South should take trick three with dummy's heart ace, draw trumps, cash his top clubs, and trump his last diamond before casting adrift with a heart. Here, West takes that trick but must concede a ruff-and-sluff. Declarer ruffs in the dummy and sluffs his remaining club.

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