Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - by Phillip Alder

Charles M. Sch­wab said, "All suc­cess­ful em­ploy­ers are stalk­ing men who will do the un­usual, men who think, men who at­tract at­ten­tion by per­form­ing more than is ex­pected of them."

Suc­cess­ful bridge play­ers stalk tricks, which oc­ca­sion­ally re­quires do­ing the un­usual -- as in to­day's deal. South is in three no-trump. West leads a fourth-high­est spade seven. What should hap­pen af­ter that?

This is the sin­gle most com­mon bid­ding se­quence. South as­sumes that North will cover the spade suit, and North as­sumes that South will coast home eas­ily with a com­bined 28-30 points be­tween them.

South starts with seven top tricks: four di­a­monds and three clubs. He can eas­ily es­tab­lish three more win­ners in hearts. His only con­cern is the spade suit. Well, there is no hurry to put up dummy's king. That can wait un­til the sec­ond round of the suit.

Now the spot­light falls on East. He knows that when the lead is fourth-high­est, he should ap­ply the Rule of Eleven. Seven from 11 is four. So there are four spades higher than the seven in the North, East and South hands com­bined. Lo and be­hold, East can see all four: the king-nine on the board and the ace-jack in his hand. So South has no spade higher than the seven.

This would tempt some Easts to win the first trick with the jack -- ir­repara­bly block­ing the suit. A stalker will win with the ace and re­turn the jack, trust­ing his part­ner to over­take with the queen to drive out dummy's king. Then, when West gets in with his heart ace, he cashes the rest of the spades for down one.

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