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Posted on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, March 15: A pair of errors that often occur

By Phillip Alder

Alexis Carrel, a French surgeon and biologist who won the 1912 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, said, "A little observation and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to truth."

In my classes, I see a lot of errors, but four are more common than the others. Two of them might occur in today's deal.

What do you think of the auction? How should South plan the play in four hearts after West takes the first two tricks with his ace and king of clubs, then shifts to a trump?

The bidding is perfect! Many inexperienced players, when advancing over their partner's takeout double, make a simple bid in a suit with any number of high-card points from zero up. They expect partner to be psychic.

A non-jump advance in a suit by an unpassed hand should show about zero to 8 points. A single jump in a suit announces 9 to 11 points. And with 12-plus, advancer should cue-bid the opener's suit. Of course, those numbers are a little fuzzy at the edges, dependent upon trump length and side shortages. And for a passed hand, subtract two points from those ranges.

With three top losers, South must find the spade queen. He should draw trumps and find out who has the diamond ace. When it is East, West needs the spade queen for his opening bid -- count the points!

What are the other two errors? Calling for a card much too quickly from the dummy at trick one and not playing the bottom of touching cards when going third hand high.

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