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“There are 130,000 baseball diamonds in the U.S. (but that’s just a ballpark figure).” — graffiti

You need not be a math whiz to play bridge, but a basic knowledge of percentages is helpful. At today’s slam, South won the first heart in dummy and led a club to his jack. If the finesse had won, he could have played safe in trumps by leading a diamond to dummy and returning a trump, planning to put in the ten if East played the nine. But West had the king of clubs and also got his king of trumps. Down one.


South’s play would work if East had the king of clubs or if either defender had the singleton king of trumps: 63 percent. Was there a better percentage play?

South can win the first heart with the ace and cash the ace of trumps. He takes the king of hearts, ruffs dummy’s last heart and cashes three diamonds for club discards. South then leads a trump, and when West wins, he is end-played. This play wins when South’s play does (unless East has all three missing trumps), plus when West has K-x of trumps.


You hold: S A 10 8 6 3 2 H A 10 D K C A J 9 4. Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one spade and he bids two clubs. What do you say?

ANSWER: One option is to jump to four clubs (forcing, since a raise to three would be invitational) and let your partner make a slam move if he wishes. My choice would be a “fourth-suit” bid of two hearts, asking partner to continue describing his hand. I would drive this hand to slam if he offers any encouragement.

North dealer

N-S vulnerable


S Q 7 5 4

H K 7 4


C Q 8 7


S K 9

H Q 9 5 2

D 5 4 2

C K 6 5 3



H J 8 6 3

D 10 9 8 7 6 3

C 10 2


S A 10 8 6 3 2

H A 10


C A J 9 4

North East South West
1 C Pass 1 S Pass
2 S Pass 6 S All Pass

Opening lead — H 2

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