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Posted on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, December 8: The theme will not go away

By Phillip Alder

John Updike said: "A healthy male adult bore consumes each year one and a half times his own weight in other people's patience."

In this week's deals, declarer has had to be patient, willing to sacrifice a trick to get several others in return. Here is another example. South is in three no-trump. West leads the diamond queen. What should declarer do?

After South opened one no-trump, showing 15 to 17 points, North was right to raise immediately to game. His hand, with two aces and a good five-card suit, was worth nearer 11 points than nine. Look especially fondly on aces.

Declarer starts with eight top tricks: three hearts, two diamonds and three clubs. Everything looks so easy. Take the first trick in hand, unblock the king and queen of clubs, play a diamond to dummy's ace, and run the clubs to bring home an overtrick.

That would be fine if the club jack were dropping doubleton or tripleton, but with this layout, South takes only his eight top tricks, ending with an undertrick, not an overtrick.

Trade in the overtrick for an improved chance of making the contract, which is laydown if clubs are 3-3, or the jack is doubleton, or the nine is doubleton.

After winning the first trick in his hand, declarer should cash the club king, then overtake his club queen with dummy's ace. When the nine appears, South continues with dummy's club 10 to drive out West's jack and collects nine tricks.

Declarer's chances for nine tricks improve from about 52 percent to 68 percent.

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