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ON BRIDGE

For those readers who grumble that key finesses always lose around here, I guarantee a winning trump finesse in today's deal. Now try to play the hand better than East-West defended it.

West led the queen of clubs: deuce, three, five. South ruffed the next club, finessed with the jack of trumps and took the ace. When East discarded, South ruffed a club and led another trump.

West won and led a fourth club. South tried to keep control by pitching a heart; but when East led a fifth club, South had to ruff with his last trump and lose a trump to West. Down one.

South must not finesse in trumps even if West shows him the king; South must lead a trump to the ace and return the jack to his queen. West wins and forces South to ruff a club; but South then draws trumps and runs the diamonds.

Where did East-West slip? West must respect East's three of clubs, which requests a shift. If West leads a heart at Trick Two, South loses two hearts, a club and a trump.

You hold: 4 K J 10 6 J 9 3 A 9 8 4 3. Your partner opens one spade, you respond one no trump and he then bids two hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Your hand wasn't quite worth a first response of two clubs but improved when partner bid hearts. Bid four hearts. He may not make it if he has the wrong cards, but a suitable minimum hand (such as five spades to the A-K and four good hearts) will give him a fine chance.

North dealer

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

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