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The day a queen leads the way

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Updated: January 13, 2013 6:08AM



Ronnie Shakes, a stand-up comedian who died in 1987 at the age of 40, said, “After 12 years of therapy, my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, ‘No hablo ingles.’”

Since today is 12/12/12, we have a deal where the No. 12 card in a suit, the queen, produces the key play. It is based on one in “Right Through the Pack” by Robert Darvas and Norman de Villiers Hart.

South reaches five clubs. West leads the heart nine. South wins with dummy’s king, plays a spade to his ace, then runs the club jack to East’s ace. What happens next?

With only one club, it is too dangerous for East to make a takeout double over one diamond. It is correct to overcall one heart. When South responds two clubs, North’s hand is tough to evaluate. It is too strong to raise to three clubs. The powerful hearts have North wondering about three no-trump, a contract that fails after a spade lead. Jumping to four clubs is reasonable, as is a three-spade splinter bid, which shows a four-card club suit, a good hand and a singleton (or void) in spades.

After crossing in spades and running the club jack to East’s ace, East can defeat the contract if he returns the heart queen. This locks declarer in the dummy. South will surely cash the club king, hoping for a 2-2 break. But if he tries to get back to hand with a diamond, East wins and leads another heart, West overruffing South.

Note that if East leads a low heart at trick four, South wins with his 10, takes another club finesse, and cruises home.



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