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Posted on Wed, Oct 26, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, October 26: One suit to play; two ways to do it

By Phillip Alder


Groucho Marx said, "Your eyes shine like the pants of my blue serge suit."

Your partner's eyes will shine if you find the right play on this deal, regardless of your dress sense. You are in three no-trump. West leads the heart queen. What would you do?

North should respond two clubs, not two no-trump (assuming it would be natural and game-forcing, not the Jacoby Forcing Raise), with those powerless hearts. You might rebid two no-trump, but with that uncertain diamond holding, three clubs cannot be criticized. But after North shows values in diamonds, you have an easy three-no-trump continuation.

You start with eight top tricks: one spade, two hearts, three diamonds and two clubs. You would need to be very lucky to gain an extra trick from spades in time. (Yes, you can establish a long spade, but you will have lost too many tricks well before you get to cash that fifth spade.)

The best place to go for winner number nine is clubs. If the suit is splitting 3-2 (a 67.8 percent chance), you will have no trouble. But you should also try to accommodate some 4-1 splits.

After taking the first trick with your king (or ace), play a club to dummy's king. When East drops the queen, do not cash dummy's ace. Instead, lead a low club to your nine. A club trick must be lost whatever the layout, and this line handles J-10-7 remaining in the West hand. He takes your nine with his 10, but you can finesse dummy's eight on the third round.

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