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Bridge: Try to consider all of the options

J. William Fulbright, a Senator representing Arkansas from 1945 to 1975, said, “We must dare to think ‘unthinkable’ thoughts. We must learn to explore all the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world.”

At the bridge table, the more “unthinkable” thoughts you have and analyze, the more likely you are to succeed. In this deal, South is in six spades. West leads the club ace. After ruffing in the dummy, how should declarer continue?

When South opened with a vulnerable pre-empt, North wondered about a grand slam. But not knowing how to find out if his partner had the diamond king or a diamond singleton, he took the practical shot at six spades.

South begins with 11 top tricks: seven spades, one heart, one diamond and two club ruffs in the dummy. The hunt is on for a 12th winner.

South should play a trump to his hand and ruff his last club on the board. But what then?

One possibility is also to eliminate the hearts, then to hope for luck in diamonds. But that should not work here.

In fact, the contract is guaranteed. After the club ruff, a spade to the king and the second club ruff, declarer should return to his hand with a spade and run the heart 10. Here it loses to East’s queen, but what can East do? Whatever he returns concedes a trick. And even if West could cover the heart 10 with the queen or king, South would win with dummy’s ace, then run the heart jack, discarding a diamond from his hand (unless, of course, East covered with the other heart honor).

Consider as many possibilities as possible.

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