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Posted on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, March 20: Suit establishment is the battle

By Phillip Alder

Frederick Douglass, a slave who became a social reformer and renowned orator, said, "A battle lost or won is easily described, understood and appreciated."

I hope that applies to this column. Many deals, especially in no-trump, are races for suit establishment. In this example, who wins the battle: South or East-West? Against three no-trump, West leads the heart seven.

South might have passed over East's intervention, but with a good heart holding, rebidding one no-trump was preferable. Then North sensibly went for the nine-trick game. (Note that five diamonds has three losers: one heart and two diamonds.)

Declarer starts with six top tricks: three spades, one heart and two clubs. He will get another heart winner, but must establish dummy's diamond suit. This requires losing the lead twice.

When declarer has two stoppers in the suit led and two high cards to drive out, he should try to duck trick one.

Here, if East plays his heart queen (bottom of touching honors when playing third hand high), South makes his contract if he plays low. He wins the second heart as cheaply as possible and leads a diamond. West takes the trick but does not have another heart to lead.

East should also remember that when trying to establish a suit in which the opponents have two stoppers, make them use up one immediately if possible. Here, East must play his heart nine at trick one. South wins with his jack and plays a diamond, but West takes the trick and leads his remaining heart, East setting up his suit while he still has the diamond ace as an entry.

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