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ON BRIDGE

In China vs. United States at the 1997 World Teams, both East-West pairs found the defense to defeat a game that looked impregnable.

Zia Mahmood, sitting West for the U.S., started with the eight of clubs. A club was by no means an obvious lead: since North had suggested a powerful hand and a long heart suit, I'd have been tempted to try the most aggressive lead possible -- a diamond.

Declarer played low from dummy, and East, Michael Rosenberg, took the queen and ace. Zia followed with the three, and Rosenberg led a third club, expecting him to ruff.

Instead Zia followed with the 10, and the king won; but when dummy led a trump next, Rosenberg dashed up with the ace and led a fourth club. Whether South ruffed low or high, Zia would score the queen of trumps for the setting trick.

Zia-Rosenberg must have thought they had gained points; but when the deal was played at the other table, China's East-West beat four spades in almost exactly the same way.

You hold: Q J 9 7 6 K 9 8 6 4 10 8 3. Your partner opens two hearts (strong), you respond two no trump and he bids three clubs. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Bid four hearts. You'd have bid two no trump with no points, but you actually have six points and three cards in each of partner's suits. If you bid three hearts now, partner may place you with a truly terrible hand and may even pass if he shaded his opening two-bid.

North dealer

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

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