FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA

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Bridge

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THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
A DEAL THAT IS AN EXCEPTION

In yesterday’s deal, declarer had to take three club finesses with Q-9-3 opposite A-J-10-2. This required running the nine, the lower “high” card, first, so that he could repeat the finesse two more times without needing an extra entry.
I thought that was standard technique — until I saw this deal. South gets to five clubs. West leads the spade king. How should South approach the play?
North might have bid one no-trump, but two clubs was preferable. If South had interest in three no-trump, he could have cue-bid in spades. Also, if South had something like queen-doubleton of spades, he ought to have been the no-trump declarer, not North.
South has two losers in the black suits. So he must find East with both red-suit kings, unlikely as that might seem. And being in the dummy for the last time, declarer has to take three finesses, two in diamonds and one in hearts. How?
If South runs the diamond nine, what does he do next? If he leads dummy’s diamond 10, he will be stuck in his hand with the jack. And if he plays the queen, East can cover with the king to put South into his hand.
Instead, declarer must start with dummy’s diamond queen.
If East covers, South wins, plays a diamond to dummy’s nine, and takes the heart finesse. Or, if East plays low, South unblocks his jack, then continues with the diamond nine. He can take all three finesses and make his contract.
Bridge retains its appeal primarily because you can rarely use the words “always” and “never.”

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