THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

Tom Flynn, an author, journalist and novelist, said, “Be sure you positively identify your target before you pull the trigger.”
As I mentioned yesterday, defenders should identify their target, the tricks that they need to defeat the contract. Then they should pull the trigger — play the necessary cards.
In this deal, how should West have defended against three spades? He led the heart ace: three, nine, five. He continued with the heart king: six, four, seven. What should he have shot next?
South’s jump to three spades was game-invitational, guaranteeing at least a six-card suit.
Since East had played high-low in hearts, West knew that South had begun with three hearts. So West could see four tricks: one spade and three hearts. But where was the fifth winner?
If West shifted to his club, took the next trick with the spade ace, and gave his partner a heart ruff, perhaps he could receive a club ruff in return. However, from the bidding East could not have two spades.
Instead, West had to gain a trick with the diamond king. But if South had the diamond ace and queen, East had to lead the suit. How could West get East on lead?
Right — he led his heart jack (not the two, which East might have read as a suit-preference signal for clubs, indicating that West was void in that suit). East, thinking that South still had the heart queen, ruffed. And when South played a low heart, East correctly understood his partner’s play. East shifted to the diamond jack — down one.

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