Bridge: May 27, 2017

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“Simple Saturday” columns are meant to help aspiring players improve technique and develop logical thinking.

Bridge has many defensive “rules.” One I can endorse unreservedly is the “Rule of 11.” Assuming your partner’s lead is the fourth-highest card in his suit, subtract his lead from 11. The remainder is the number of higher cards that dummy, you and declarer hold.

Today’s West leads the six of hearts against 3NT. Declarer captures East’s queen, leads a club to dummy and returns a sneaky jack of spades, as if taking a finesse. If East plays low, declarer has nine tricks.

THREE HEARTS

If East applies the Rule of 11, he won’t be fooled. He subtracts West’s six from 11: Dummy, East and declarer had five hearts higher than the six. Since East can see all five, he knows South has no more high hearts, and the bidding tells East that South started with at most three hearts.

Since West’s hearts are ready to run, East can grab his ace of spades to return the ten of hearts.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: ♠ J 10 9 5 ♥ 9 7 ♦ K Q 8 ♣ A Q J 4. Your partner opens one diamond. The next player bids two hearts (preemptive). What do you say?

ANSWER: You may belong at spades, but you mustn’t try two spades with a weak four-card suit. A bid of three clubs would not be a terrible action, but to get spades into the game, make a negative double, showing spade length but the wrong type of hand for a spade bid. Discuss negative doubles…

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