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Sharpen your skills ahead of events

It’s that time of year again when phrases such as “where has the summer gone” and “it can’t be September already” float around, children go back to school, parents breathe a sigh of relief ... and bridge players look forward to getting back in the swing.

The sectional is just around the corner (September 16-19) and the open pairs is on September 26 and 30.

So get back to the club and sharpen your skills in time for these events.

This week’s hand is not that easy but is a great example of thinking at trick one and making a plan ... and then thinking again.

Dealer North, Both Vul


S A8



C KQJ753


S 96542

H Q107632

D J5

C None



H J98

D A1042

C 842


S Q107

H 54

D 9873

D A1096

North opened a strong two Clubs, South bid 2NT showing 8-10 and North made a quantitative raise to 4NT, asking partner to bid 6NT if he had a maximum. South fancied his nine points and bid 6NT.

Before I get to the play of the hand, let me give you a tip here: when partner ever makes a quantitative raise to 4NT you have a choice — accept or reject.

If you reject you simply pass – if you decide to accept, however, I suggest you do so by answering for aces.

This avoids you getting to those 32 HCP slams where the only points you are missing are two aces.

West led the diamond nine – declarer liked the lead as it gave him four diamond tricks and won East’s jack with his ace — it all now looked really easy until declarer led a club to the king and East showed out.

There was now no way back as declarer had only one more entry to dummy to lead clubs again. After a bit of navel-gazing, declarer claimed 11 tricks for one down, cursing his bad luck in the process.

Partner, North, however, was having none of it. “You made the mistake at trick one. You don’t need four diamond tricks but you need the clubs to come in.

“If clubs are 2-2 or 3-1 you are fine, and if East had A1096 you are dead, but if West has A1096 you can do something about it.

“Win the diamond in dummy and play the club king – now when East shows out you are in control.”

“West wins the ace and leads a heart which you win, lead a diamond to the ace and play the club 8.

“West has to cover but you win the jack, come to the spade king and play your last club finessing West’s 10 — contract made with five clubs, five red suit winners and two spades. So don’t curse your luck, curse your skill.”

Don’t you just love those gentle, caring, supportive partners.