The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 2, 2014

Bridge column: To jump or not to jump?

This week, we have been studying strong jump shifts. To check that you have the idea, look at today's South hand. North opens one heart and East passes. What should South bid?

While you decide, I have said that a strong jump shift should promise 13-16 high-card points. In the days of yore, responder needed 17-19 high-card points. As I explained three days ago, this was not best. But if responder has a two-suiter, by the time he adds shortage points, his hand will probably be worth 17-19 support points: high-card plus shortage points.

In this deal, though, South must respond one spade, not two spades. Don't make a strong jump shift with a two-suiter unless partner opened in one of your suits.

A sensible sequence is one heart - one spade - three spades - four no-trump - five diamonds - five no-trump - six hearts - six spades. It is difficult to bid seven no-trump (the best contract) or seven spades with confidence when a king is missing.

However, let's assume that West leads the club jack against seven spades. How should South plan the play?

Declarer has 13 top tricks: five spades, five hearts, one diamond and two clubs. So, he does not need to risk the diamond finesse. He should win trick one in his hand with the club ace, draw trumps (leaving the ace or king in the dummy as an entry), unblock the heart ace and king, cross to dummy with a trump, and cash those lovely winners (the heart Q-J-10 and club king), discarding his four diamond losers.

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