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Bridge: Good guessing and poor thinking

Our man A.N. Other continues in good form: “Anybody could get rich if he could guess the exact moment at which a piece of junk becomes an antique.”

Any bridge player could get rich if he could work out the exact moment to make an unusual play that is correct.

In this deal, West leads his heart six against three no-trump: jack, king, seven. East returns the heart three, covered by South’s four. How should West analyze the position?

North was right to blaze straight into three no-trump. Presumably, he is putting eight winners down in the dummy. He needs only for partner to be able to win a trick before the defenders have taken five. Admittedly, here South rates to have club length because he did not show a major or raise diamonds, and five diamonds might make when three no-trump fails. But do not spend your life looking for that distribution. It will arise only rarely.

If this deal were played in a tournament, almost every declarer would make his contract. West would automatically take the second trick with his heart eight, cash the heart ace, and find himself stuck on lead after taking the fourth trick with his heart 10. South would win the last nine tricks.

The bidding marks South with at most three hearts because he did not respond one heart. So it cannot hurt West to take the second trick with his heart 10. Then after cashing the ace, he can continue with his eight, which East can overtake with his nine to cash the five to defeat the contract.

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