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Two friends of ours got married recently. It was a lovely wedding; but the bride and groom are a partnership at the bridge table -- such dedicated players that we were surprised when their vows omitted a promise to love each other "in good cards and bad."

You don't have to love, honor or obey your bridge partner, but it's your duty to protect him or her from making a mistake.

Today's East took the ace of clubs and returned the queen. South won; and West, having led the three, followed with the deuce, telling his partner he had started with a five-card suit.

South next led the 10 of trumps to finesse. East won and knew the situation was hopeless unless the defenders could cash two diamonds. He therefore switched to the six of diamonds, on which South played the seven.

West took the ace -- and tried to cash the jack of clubs. South ruffed gratefully, drew trumps and ran the hearts to discard his two remaining diamonds.

If you want to stay hitched to your current partner, don't put him to a guess like the one East inflicted on West. West's play would be right if South had 6-3-1-3 distribution; but East's defense was, let us say, divorced from reality.

East knows his side must cash the A-K of diamonds to beat the contract; hence East should cherish his partner by leading the king and then a low diamond, giving West no chance to err.

Maybe when two bridge players form a partnership, there should be a brief ceremony.North dealer

Both sides vulnerable
A J 3
A K J 8
Q J 4
10 7 4
6 4
7 5 4
A 3 2
J 8 6 3 2
K 8
10 9 3 2
K 10 9 6
A Q 5
Q 10 9 7 5 2
Q 6
8 7 5
K 9
North East South West
1 NT Pass 4 All Pass
Opening lead -- 3

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