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ON BRIDGE

I wonder how many readers agree with North's raise to two hearts. To suggest a major suit as trumps at the level of one, South needs only a four-card suit of no special quality; hence North would prefer four trumps to raise.

In my view, North's raise is fine. South need not have a poor suit; and auctions are easier when a trump suit is set early.

Say North rebids two clubs instead, and South next tries two no trump. If North then bids three hearts to show his support, that's forcing, and North-South may get too high. (Three hearts must be forcing since if South has a poor suit, he won't wish to play at hearts.)

But if North raises directly to two hearts, and South then tries for game with two no trump, North can bid three clubs, suggesting minimum values with three hearts and five or six clubs. Ideal!

Today's South leaps to four hearts and must make do with only seven trumps. Say he wins the first trump with the king and leads a diamond. East wins, leads another trump, wins the next diamond and leads a third trump. South then tries to run the clubs; but East ruffs the third club, and South loses another diamond and a spade. Down two.

Four hearts is a good spot, and South makes it if he keeps control of trumps in order to use dummy's clubs. South must let West's 10 win the first trump. If West leads another trump, South can draw trumps and run the clubs, winning five clubs, three trumps and two spades.

North dealer

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

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