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bridge, March 8

By Phillip Alder
Newspaper Enterprise Assn.
Monday we looked at benefiting from the Rule of Seven. You are in three no-trump. Your only high card in the led suit is the ace (or the king, if righty wins the first trick with the ace). You subtract the number of cards your side has in this suit from seven, and hold up your ace for that number of rounds.
It is a boon at the right moment. Far too often, though, it jumps up and bites you. This deal highlights another occasion when you should ignore the rule. Why?
Against three no-trump, West leads the spade king. What would you do?
Stayman is a great convention if you find a 4-4 fit in a major. But if you do not have a 4-4 fit, ignore Stayman. Of course, until you use Stayman, you will not know if you have a 4-4 fit ó it is a classic Catch 22.
You have eight top tricks: one spade, three hearts and four diamonds. You have no problems if hearts are 3-3, but if they break 4-2, which is more likely, you will need a club trick.
If you follow the Rule of Seven, you will take the second spade trick. Then you will test the hearts, getting the bad news. You can run the diamonds, but you will have to play a club, and what would be your poison?
You should wait until the third round of spades to learn how the suit is splitting. Here, it is 5-2. Now, assuming hearts are 4-2 or worse, you know that if West has the club ace, you will go down. You must assume East has that card and play a club to your king. (Yes, if spades are 4-3, you will have to guess clubs.)
Copyright 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.
North
date2: 03-08-08
handtext: SPADES 7 6 2
HEARTS K 6 5 2
DIAMONDS A K J 4
CLUBS 8 3
West East
handtext:SPADES K Q J 10 5 SPADES 8 3
HEARTS 7 4 HEARTS J 10 9 8
DIAMONDS 10 6 3 DIAMONDS 9 8 5
CLUBS ? 9 2 CLUBS ? 10 7 6
South
handtext: SPADES A 9 4
HEARTS A Q 3
DIAMONDS Q 7 2
CLUBS K J 5 4
vulnerable:Dealer: South
Vulnerable: Both
smallnews:South West North East
smallhand:1 NT Pass 2 CLUBS Pass
2 DIAMONDS Pass 3 NT All pass
lead:Opening lead: SPADES K
AP-NY-02-21-08 0706EST

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