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by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish


 Being able to make effective decisions in a real-life bridge game is much more challenging than solving a problem when you see all four hands. Today's deal shows the application of practical methods in both bidding and play.

East-West vulnerable North deals


K Q 9 8

A K Q J 9 7 6

K 10 7 6 4
9 8 7 2
A 4 2


A 5 3 2
Q 6 5 4 3

5 4 3

  Q 9 8
A J 10
J 10 7 6 5

10 8

West North East South
  1 Pass 1
Pass 4NT Pass 5(1)
Pass Pass Pass  


 (1)= 1 ace


 Although North-South might belong in 3NT, North cannot sensibly investigate this possibility. He should not worry about things beyond his reach but rather concentrate on learning things he can apply usefully. His Blackwood bid reveals that there are not enough combined aces for slam so he settles for 5

 As North-South would normally be in slam with at least three combined aces, their bidding suggests that they are missing two aces, so West leads his singleton club. If East does not have the
A, West hopes to find his major-suit ace later to obtain his ruff.

 Declarer has reason to fear a club ruff. He could cash the
K and try to sneak over to his hand to discard dummy's spade on the A or he could overtake the K with the ace and play the 10, discarding dummy's spade. These plays are bound to fail against alert defenders and will reveal declarer's weakness in spades.

 South's most practical play is to win the club in hand and play a trump, forcing the defence to find its own way. If West had only two trumps, for example, he would have to win the ace immediately and guess which major suit to play. Here, however, West can learn which ace East has. Do you see how?

 West should play low on the first trump and win the second. Now East has a chance to help West with his discard. He can signal his
A by discarding either a high (encouraging) spade or a low (discouraging) heart. East, a practical player, notices that his most "encouraging" spade - the five - is not a particularly high card. Thus, he elects to discard the 3, a card that cannot be misinterpreted. West knows East has the A just as if he could see through the backs of the cards. He plays a spade and East wins the ace and gives him the vital club ruff.

 Although an experienced East might try to indicate his spade entry at trick one by following with his highest club (the humble five) West should still duck the
A, hoping to see East's revealing discard.