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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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“Money is that dear thing which, if you’re not careful, you can squander your whole life thinking of. …” – Mary Jo Salter

Bobby Wolff United Feature Syndicate

Today’s deal is all about drawing the correct inferences from the play and learning how to count to nine. When dummy comes down in three no-trump after the lead of the spade jack, South counts seven top tricks and a further three if clubs are 3-2.

So what’s the problem? The only danger is letting East on lead prematurely for a spade play through declarer’s remaining honor.

That will only happen if West has five spades headed by the ace and East has at least four clubs to the jack.

So what can declarer do to avoid that eventuality?

After winning the first trick with the spade queen, declarer crosses to dummy with the diamond king and leads the club 10.

He does not mind if West can win this trick with the jack, as that player cannot attack spades profitably and declarer will still make at least nine tricks.

In practice East will play low and so will South.

After West follows small to the first club, declarer plays a low club to his king, crosses back to dummy with the heart ace, and runs the clubs to make 10 tricks: a spade, a heart, two diamonds and six clubs.

You will note that if declarer carelessly plays clubs from the top, without taking the safety play, East will eventually gain the lead with either a heart or club and put a spade through declarer’s tenace, giving the defense at least five tricks.

Bid with the aces

South holds:

♠ K Q 7
♥ Q 8 6 4
♦ A 9 4 2
♣ K 3
1 ♦Pass1 ♥Pass
2 ♥Pass2 ♠Pass

Answer: Your partner’s call of two spades is a game-try, wanting help in spades (his holding would typically be three or four spades to one honor). Since your hands clearly fit well together, jump to four hearts.

Do not give partner a chance to stop short of game.

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