Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The foolish man wonders at the unusual, but the wise man at the usual.”

Not at the bridge table! There, the wise man wonders about the usual and the unusual. It is true that most deals fit the usual pattern, but every now and then, one comes along that requires an unusual bid or play. That is when we separate the good players from the less imaginative.

How is that applicable to this deal? South is in three no-trump, and West leads the heart queen.

Today’s South hand, with its 17 points, good five-card suit, two aces and two kings, is too strong for a 15-17 no-trump.

In three no-trump, South has seven top tricks: two spades, two hearts, one diamond and two clubs. Obviously he plans to get the other two winners (at least) from his diamond suit. But suppose he makes the usual play here: He wins the first trick with dummy’s heart king and plays a diamond to his queen. West wins with the king and leads another heart. South takes that and cashes the diamond ace, being horrified to see West discard a club or spade. Suddenly the contract is un-makable.

South could afford one diamond loser, but not two. He should take the first trick and make the unusual play of cashing the diamond ace. Here, the king comes tumbling down, so South can continue diamonds to gain an overtrick. But if the king does not appear, declarer crosses to dummy and plays a diamond toward his hand. As long as West does not have king-fourth or -fifth, the contract is secure.

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