Bridge: Jan. 20, 2023

This week’s deals have treated a basic technique: setting up a suit. I believe that learning players need to spend most of their time studying play and defense, not bidding conventions.

Cover today’s East-West cards. Against four spades, West leads the K-A and jack of clubs. East discards a diamond, and you ruff and take the ace of trumps. East-West follow low. How do you continue?

If you cash the king of trumps, West discards. You can try to run the hearts, but when East turns up with J-10-9-6, you must lose a diamond plus a trump.

LONG HEART

You may need a dummy entry to set up and cash a long heart. Best is to lead a heart to dummy at Trick Five and return a trump. When East follows low, play your ten.

When the ten wins, you are safe. But if West had the queen of trumps, you could win his heart return, take a third high heart for a diamond discard and ruff a heart, then reach dummy with the jack of trumps to pitch your last low diamond on the good fifth heart.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S J 7 2 H A K Q 8 3 D Q 5 C 9 6 5. Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one heart and he bids one spade. What do you say?

ANSWER: If partner is apt to open light hands, you are in a dilemma. But if his opening bids are reasonably sound, you can force to game. Since your best game is unclear, bid two clubs, a “fourth-suit” call that doesn’t promise great clubs but asks partner to bid on. If he bids two hearts or 2NT next, raise to game.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S J 7 2

H A K Q 8 3

D Q 5

C 9 6 5

WEST

S 5

H 7 4

D K J 4 2

C A K J 8 3 2

EAST

S Q 9 4

H J 10 9 6

D 10 9 6 3

C 10 4

SOUTH

S A K 10 8 6 3

H 5 2

D A 8 7

C Q 7

South West North East
1 S 2 C 2 H Pass
2 S Pass 3 S Pass
4 S All Pass
Opening lead — C K

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