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Two stumbling blocks

Assume you’re declarer at four spades and West leads a club. How would you play the hand?

If you finesse the queen of clubs, which seems the natural thing to do, East wins with the king and shifts to the king of hearts, forcing out your ace. This leaves you in bad shape, and you eventually go down one, losing two hearts, a diamond and a club.

You could dismiss the result by attributing it to bad luck -- after all, West could have had the king of clubs. But if you study the situation objectively, you should conclude that the club finesse is the wrong play. This is because you have a much better chance to make the contract by playing the ace of clubs at trick one and a low diamond at trick two! In the actual deal, you’d eventually wind up with 10 tricks.

The best the enemy could do would be to win the diamond, cash the king of clubs and shift to a heart. You win, lead a diamond to the ace, ruff a diamond high, play the A-K of trumps and ruff another diamond high. After leading a trump to the jack, you discard a heart on the established ten of diamonds to make your game.

By playing this way, you make the contract if the trumps are divided 2-2 or 3-1 (90 percent) and the diamonds are divided 3-3 or 4-2 (84 percent). These divisions occur much more often than those where West is dealt the king of clubs (50 percent), so it is clear that the club finesse should not be risked.

Observe also that you must lead a low diamond from dummy at trick two, not the ace. If you play the ace first, you’ll wind up down one. If you don’t believe it, just try it and see what happens.

Bridge club results

The Northampton Bridge Club welcomes anyone who wishes to play duplicate bridge. Open pairs game: 7 p.m. every Tuesday at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 1 Atwood Drive, Northampton. The club manager is available at 253-3508 to assist players in need of partners. The club’s website is www.northamptonbridgeclub.com.

There were 12 tables in play July 16.

North-South, overall winners: Paul Bacon-Muriel Dane, 63.75; Evalyn Glickman-Roger Miller, 60.09; Edward Hougen-Arthur Franz, 55.77; Roger Webb-Philippe Galaski, 55.51; Barbara Jackson-Joan Levinson, 50.65; Strata B: Edward Hougen-Arthur Franz, 55.77; Strata C: George Abbott-Liz Hildebrandt, 46.13;

East-West, overall winners: Evelyn Chesky-Don Weld, 61.58; Eva Cashdan-Sheldon Cashdan, 56.25; Anne McCune-James Nowill, 56.03; David Rock-Debbie Ouellette, 54.50; Robert Sagor-Leo Sartori, 53.78; Strata B: Evelyn Chesky-Don Weld, 61.58; Strata C: Anne McCune-James Nowill, 56.03;

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