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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Both vulnerable. North deals.
x -A 8
u -J 10 5 2
v -K 6
w -A K Q J 3
x -9 7 6 3 2 x -K 10 4
u -A Q 3 u -6
v -10 8 5 2 v -Q J 9 7
w -6 w -9 7 5 4 2
x -Q J 5
u -K 9 8 7 4
v -A 4 3
w -10 8
The bidding:
1w Pass 1u Pass
4u Pass Pass Pass
Opening lead: Six of w
West, defending against four hearts, needs to find a quick entry to partner's hand to obtain a ruff. Is there any clue to which suit West should tackle first?
The bidding is simple enough. After South's one-heart response to the one-club opening, North's five-loser hand is easily worth a jump to game. South is just short of making a move toward slam.
Depending on the location of the king of hearts, West will have to find two or three more defensive tricks to defeat the heart game. It is unlikely that East holds sufficient high cards to produce those tricks, so West elected to try for a club ruff by leading his singleton. Declarer won in dummy and immediately ran the jack of hearts, losing to West's queen.
The hand was at the crossroads. West had to find an entry to the East hand for a club return, and the only possible cards were the king of spades and ace of diamonds. Is there a reason to prefer one over the other?
Yes! Possession of the ace of hearts gives West the luxury of testing both possibilities providing he does so in the right order. Suppose West tries the quick route and shifts to a diamond. Declarer wins, forces out the ace of hearts, rises with the ace on West's spade return, draws the outstanding trump and runs clubs to coast home with an overtrick.
Now suppose West shifts to a spade after winning the first heart. If declarer plays low, East wins and reverts to clubs to beat the hand. If declarer rises with the ace, East signals with the ten of spades and, when West wins the second trump, a spade to East's king and a club return nets the defenders four tricks.
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