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Posted on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, November 10: Two chances are better than one

By Phillip Alder

Louis Pasteur, the French chemist and bacteriologist who produced the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax, said, "In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind."

At the bridge table, usually the better you play, the luckier you will be. Doing the correct preparation by thinking along the right lines when you are the declarer will result in your playing well.

Can you do that in this deal? You barrel into six no-trump, and West leads the heart 10. What would be your plan?

When in no-trump, count your top tricks (instant winners). Here, you have 11: one spade, four hearts, two diamonds and four clubs. From where might the 12th winner come?

There are two chances: the spade finesse working or the diamonds splitting 3-3.

A finesse is more likely than a 3-3 break, but before taking that finesse, is there a way to get home if either diamonds divide 3-3 or the spade finesse works?

You should not play three rounds of diamonds, because if they break 4-2, you will lose two tricks. Instead, try to duck a diamond. At trick two, lead a diamond from the board and, if East plays low, put in your nine. It loses, but you can win West's return and cash the ace-king of diamonds. When they prove to be 3-3, you can claim. But if they prove to be 4-2, you can still try the spade finesse.

What if East plays the diamond 10 at trick two? If you duck, East can shift to a spade, making you commit yourself immediately. Instead, win that trick, return to the dummy and lead another diamond toward your hand, hoping to be able to duck the trick to West.

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