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It is best to be both good and lucky

It is best to be both good and lucky

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Ernest Hemingway wrote in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life -- and one is as good as the other."

Many say that it is better to be lucky than good, but at the bridge table and in sporting arenas, the better one plays, the more favorable breaks seem to come one's way.

In today's deal, North-South reach six spades. How should South play after West leads the diamond queen?

Three spades was a game-invitational limit raise showing an eight-loser hand with four or more trumps. South, with a four-loser hand (remember that you deduct one loser for a known 10-card or better fit), bid what he thought he could make.

Six spades is a fair contract, needing an opponent to have a singleton spade king or the defender with the doubleton spade king to have at most two clubs. If only dummy had held a third heart, there would have been fewer problems.

After winning with the diamond ace, South cashed the spade ace, getting the good news (no 3-0 break) and the bad news (no singleton king). He took his two heart tricks, led a diamond to dummy's king, ruffed the last diamond, cashed the club ace and played a club to dummy's king. With the partial elimination complete, declarer gave West his trump trick.

South's luck was in: West had to return a red-colored card, permitting declarer to ruff on the board (the shorter-trump hand) and to sluff his losing club.

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