John Barrymore, an actor who died in 1942, said, “I would like to find a stew that will give me heartburn immediately, instead of at three o’clock in the morning.”

Did he, or did he stay in a stew over it? For today’s deal, though, “three” is the key word. How should the defenders card to defeat three no-trump?

South starts with six top tricks: four spades, one heart and one club (the suit West will be leading). Declarer must drive out the diamond ace and hope that the defenders either do not or cannot run clubs (in this case, because there is an unavoidable blockage).

So, after West leads the club seven, South takes East’s queen with his king and immediately attacks diamonds. What should West do?

He does not know! Trick one marked South with the club jack, because if East had held the queen and jack, he would have played the jack, not the queen. Also, if South still has two clubs in his hand, West must try to get his partner on lead (presumably with a heart shift) for a club return through South’s jack. But if South has only one club left, it will drop under West’s ace.

West should hold up his diamond ace until the third round, so that he can see a signal from his partner. Here, East should discard his club two, lowest from a remaining odd number.

This present-count card announces that East started with either two or four clubs. And as he would never discard his last card in partner’s long suit, West should assume that East began with four clubs. And if he did, West can cash the club ace to collect South’s jack, then run the rest of the suit for down one.

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