Paul Newman, who won an Oscar for “The Color of Money,” said, “If you’re playing in a poker game and you look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.”

Poker players need to “read” their opponents, judging what they hold from their bets and their body language. Bridge experts also read their opponents, during the bidding and play.

As an example, in today’s deal, how should South play in three no-trump? West leads the club king. South ducks the first two clubs and takes the third. East follows twice, then discards a low diamond.

North was not expecting his partner to have any problems, but the duplication of values in the red suits has left South with only seven top winners: three hearts, three diamonds and one club. He must take two spade tricks. How should declarer try to accomplish that?

The right start is low to dummy’s queen. If East wins with the ace, South should play a spade to dummy’s 10 on the second round. But if the spade queen wins, declarer returns to his hand in a red suit and leads another spade. If West plays low again, South must hope that he can read his opponents.

If East fumbled on the first round of the suit, declarer should finesse dummy’s 10. East would hesitate only with the ace. Or, if West paused momentarily on either round, South should put up dummy’s king. Similarly, without the ace, West would have had no reason to waver.

If both played low smoothly, declarer must guess – good luck!

All right, I would tend to finesse the 10 because East had to find only one good play; West would have had to make two.

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