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Posted on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, March 27: Play to the strength of your trump suit

By Phillip Alder

Oscar Robertson, a 12-time All-Star basketball player, said, "Some players are more physical than others; some play with more finesse. Some are just really great all-around players."

Some bridge players are more analytical than others; some rely more on table feel. You must play to your strength.

In this deal, though, it is the strength of the spade suit that is important.

How should South plan the play in six spades after West leads the club queen to dummy's king?

First, North makes a Jacoby Forcing Raise. When South indicates a minimum with no singleton or void, North wheels out Roman Key Card Blackwood. South's five-diamond reply shows three key cards (three aces, or two aces and the trump king). Five hearts asks for the trump queen, five spades denying that card or a sixth spade. (In RKCB, if the replier knows of at least a 10-card fit, he should say he has the trump queen even when he does not. Ten trumps, including the ace and king, will usually play for no losers. And North should have signed off in six no-trump, but that wasn't allowed, because this week we are handling trump suits.)

South can afford one spade loser but not two. There is a perfect safety-play. He should lead a low spade from the dummy, not cash the ace.

Here, East discards, so declarer can either win with his king and play back toward the dummy or, perhaps easier, put in his jack, later finessing dummy's nine. If East follows low on the first spade, South finesses his jack and is safe.

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