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Bridge: Take your best shot to be successful

A.J. Liebling, a journalist and author who died in 1963, said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

That does not seem to be guaranteed. Outside influences might exert pressure.

At the bridge table, some plays are guaranteed; one example is a safety play. Other plays, though, are not sure to work. You just hope that they do.

In today’s deal, against four spades, West starts with the heart queen: six, four, two. What should West lead at trick two?

After North opened one club and East overcalled one heart, South’s one-spade response guaranteed at least a five-card suit, because with only four spades, he would have made a negative double. West applied maximum pressure with his jump to four hearts — in a competitive auction, usually bid to the 10-trick level with a 10-card fit. Then North raised to four spades. This was a slight overbid. If West had passed, North would have rebid three spades. But in competition you may bid one level higher than you would have done in a noncompetitive sequence. Also, maybe both four hearts and four spades were making.

West cannot be sure where four defensive tricks will come from. But unless East has the spade king, the defenders need three minor-suit tricks. Although not underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, West’s best shift is to the diamond queen.

Here, South will win with dummy’s king and draw trumps, but when he turns to clubs, East takes a trick and returns a diamond through South’s jack, which is trapped by West’s A-10 tenace.

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