THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

John Wayne said, “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”
The next trick is the most important play in bridge … for a fleeting moment. And, of course, some tricks are more important than others. Which is the key trick in this deal?
South is in four spades. West leads the diamond queen. How should the defenders continue from there?
When South opens one spade, North’s hand is worth game in spades, that singleton hopefully being valuable. But with only three trumps, he must adopt a two-step routine, bidding his own nice club suit first, then supporting spades with a jump.
When this deal was originally played, East won the first trick with his diamond ace and shifted to the heart two. West took that trick with his queen and cashed the ace, but South won the remainder.
West had forgotten the most important defensive “rule”: When leading a low card from length, you promise at least one honor in that suit.
Here, when East led the heart two, West should have realized that East had the heart king, since the jack and 10 were on the board. West should have won trick two with his heart ace and returned the heart queen. Then East could have overtaken with his king and given West a heart ruff to defeat the contract.
That is tough but not impossible, especially if you discuss the principle with your partners.

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