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Bridge: Tricks point to defense

Elizabeth Olsen, an actress and singer, said, “At New York University, I went to the Atlantic Theater Company, and they have two main points. One is always to be active in something instead of just feeling it. And the other is figuring out your character.”

At the bridge table, be active in counting points and figuring out tricks, both yours and theirs.

In this deal, West is trying to defeat three no-trump. He leads the spade queen: five, two, king. South plays on clubs, putting West back in. What should he do next?

What do you think of South’s one-no-trump response?

I think it is better than raising clubs, which might be only a 4-3 fit. But if three no-trump is the best final contract, probably it would be preferable for the opener, with the stronger hand, to be the declarer. Some Souths would respond with an imaginative one diamond (and I might do that if the spades and diamonds were reversed).

Note South’s taking the first trick with the king. Usually declarer should win with the top of touching honors from the closed hand. Trick one in no-trump can be an exception. If he wins with the ace, it advertises strength, because with only the ace, he would make the holdup play.

East’s spade two denies a high honor. So South is marked with seven points in spades and, with the club ace out of the way, nine winners (two spades, three hearts and four clubs). There isn’t a moment to lose. West should go center stage and shift to the diamond queen, hoping East has at least A-J-10-x-x or A-J-9-x-x-x.


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