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Bridge: Sorry, partner, I played too quickly

Josh Billings, the pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw, was a humorist who died in 1885. He said, “One half of the troubles in this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.”

Perhaps one half of the mistakes at the bridge table can be traced to playing too quickly and not taking enough time to think things through.

That would be the case for many players in today’s deal. Defending against four hearts, East wins the first trick with his club jack. How would many continue? What should East do?

South’s two-heart response, in a suit higher ranking than his partner’s, guarantees at least a five-card suit. (With only four hearts, South would usually make a negative double.)

Many defenders would win with the club jack, cash the club king, and continue with the club ace. What would happen?

If South ruffs low, West overruffs and shifts to a diamond for down one. If South ruffs high, he eventually loses a heart and a diamond to fall to defeat. But a South who paused for a few moments at trick three would see the advantage in discarding his unavoidable diamond loser. Then the contract would make.

East should cash his diamond ace at trick three (or two) before continuing clubs. This defeats the contract. The defenders get two clubs, one diamond and one heart.

Do not try for a trump promotion until, if possible, you have taken all of your side-suit tricks.

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