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DAILY BRIDGE CLUB

The dreaded day arriveth. Death and taxes are certain (though death isn't an annual event), and it's also a certainty that today many players will automatically return their partner's lead instead of taxing their brain by thinking for themselves.

South won the first spade with the king and let the jack of clubs ride, and East took the queen and returned his partner's lead. South took the ace of spades and forced out the ace of clubs, and though West shifted to the ten of diamonds, the defense got only two diamonds and two clubs.

East erred. He can't possibly beat 3NT by returning a spade at the third trick: Even if West has the ace, he can't have a side entry to his spades. Moreover, East can infer that West has the ace of clubs: If South had it, he'd have cashed it before finessing.

East must give up on the spades and shift to a low diamond. South takes the jack, but when he leads another club, West wins and leads his last diamond, and East runs the diamonds.

You hold: J 10 9 7 3 10 9 7 3 10 7 A 5. Dealer, at your left, opens one heart. Your partner doubles, you respond one spade and he raises to two spades. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Your partner has about 17 to 20 points. He couldn't raise you with less strength since your response of one spade promised nothing except four random spades. Since partner's hand is probably short in hearts, your hand has great potential. Bid three spades.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH
Q 4 2
Q 5
K 5 4
K 10 9 7 3
WEST
J 10 9 7 3
10 9 7 3
10 7
A 5
EAST
8 5
J 8 4
A Q 9 3 2
Q 6 2
SOUTH
A K 6
A K 6 2
J 8 6
J 8 4
South West North East
1 NTPass3 NTAll Pass
Opening lead -- J

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