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Determination is the key to success at bridge, but an aptitude for the game helps. Try today's deal as an aptitude test. Cover the South and East cards and defend as West.

Against South's three spades, you lead a club. East wins with the king and returns the jack, and South takes dummy's ace and passes the jack of trumps to your king. All follow to your queen of clubs. What next?

One concept a good defender must know is when to look aggressively for tricks and when to sit back and wait: "active" vs. "passive" defense. In this deal dummy has no long suit and few high cards, so South can't get rid of any of his losers. West can wait.

West's correct lead at the fifth trick is his last trump, giving South nothing that isn't his anyhow. If South draws trumps and finesses with the queen of diamonds, West should passively return a diamond, and South then loses a heart for down one.

If West leads a non-trump at Trick Five, he gives away a trick and the contract.

You hold: A Q 9 7 3 A 10 2 A Q 9 6 3. Dealer, at your right, opens one diamond. You overcall one spade, and your partner bids two clubs. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Your partner should have a fair hand since nothing forced him to act. If your hand had been any stronger, you'd have started with a double, planning to bid spades next, hence you must be bold now. Jump to 3NT. Your queen of diamonds is worth as much as a king.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable
J 10 4
K 9 3
6 5 4 3
A 7 5
K 6
J 8 6 4
K 9 2
Q 10 8 2
8 5 2
Q 7 5
J 10 8 7
K J 4
A Q 9 7 3
A 10 2
9 6 3
South West North East
1 Pass2 Pass
3 All Pass
Opening lead -- 2

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