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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

“A gentleman who had been very unhappy in marriage married immediately after his wife died: Johnson said it was the triumph of hope over experience.” - Samuel Johnson

Bobby Wolff United Feature Syndicate

How will you play four spades in today’s deal when West leads the club king? Your raise to game was based on your extra shape and a hope that partner would not have wasted values opposite your singleton club.

You win the lead of the club king with dummy’s ace. Suppose you play a trump to your king next. An uncharitable West would win and might find the deadly switch to hearts. There will then be no way to avoid four losers. So you must find a way to dispose of your heart loser. Any ideas?

It is a long shot to hope that West holds the club king-queen in a three-card suit so that you could establish dummy’s club jack with a couple of ruffs. A better chance is to hope that East holds the ace and king of diamonds. In theory this is normally a 1-in-4 chance, but once West did not lead the suit, the chances improve. It may not be good odds, but you might as well play for it!

Accordingly, at trick two you lead a low diamond toward your hand. East rises with the king and switches to the heart queen. You win in the dummy and lead another diamond. East wins with the ace and plays another heart. You win with your king and discard dummy’s remaining heart on the established diamond queen. Only then can you afford to play a trump and claim your 10 tricks.

Bid with the aces

South holds:

♠ 7
♥ Q J 10 6
♦ A K 10 6 4
♣ 9 6 5
1 ♥1 ♠

Answer: While this hand is worth a drive to game, it makes sense to jump to three spades as a splinter-raise in hearts. This way you get to show your short spades while promising enough high cards to let partner know you really intend to make game. Your partner will now be better placed to bid on over a four-spade sacrifice or to look for slam.