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ON BRIDGE

At the ACBL Spring Championships in Reno, West would have failed by a trick at four spades, but it was hard for Tobi Sokolow, South, to resist bidding five hearts. Moreover, she'd surely have made it if East, Marty Baff, hadn't defended well.

Sokolow ruffed the first spade and took the A-K of hearts. When West discarded, declarer couldn't afford to draw trumps; she had to force out the ace of diamonds next.

Baff won the second diamond and forced Sokolow to ruff another spade. That left East with two trumps, and declarer with one high trump in her hand and in dummy.

South then led good diamonds. (To cash three clubs first would be best.) If East ruffs, South can win the return, draw East's last trump and finish the clubs and diamonds for 11 tricks. But Baff threw clubs on the third and fourth diamonds; and when declarer started the clubs next, Baff ruffed and led a spade.

South had no way out. No matter where she ruffed, she had to lead a club at the 12th trick; and Baff ruffed to beat the contract.

You hold: A Q 9 2 10 9 8 6 A 7 J 9 7. Dealer, at your left, opens one heart. Your partner doubles, and the next player raises to three hearts. What do you say?

A: Your opponent's jump to three hearts is preemptive; he's trying to steal your deal. Since your partner has opening values or more with good spade support, stretch slightly and jump to four spades. You'd bid three spades to compete if your queen were a low spade.

West dealer

Neither side vulnerable
NORTH
10 5
A K J
K 10 9 8
A K 10 8
WEST
K J 8 7 6 4 3
5
5 3 2
3 2
EAST
A Q 9 2
10 9 8 6
A 7
J 9 7
SOUTH
None
Q 7 4 3 2
Q J 6 4
Q 6 5 4
West North East South
3 Dbl 4 5
All Pass
Opening lead -- 7

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