THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

Here is my final deal that was on the International Bridge Press Association short list for last year’s awards. It features an excellent defense by Shivam Shah (East) and Alex Roberts (West) for England against Poland at last year’s world youth championships in Taicang, China.
How did the defense go against five diamonds?
North opened with a Polish Club. It is usually bid with a balanced hand and 12-14 points, but it might be natural with five or more clubs and 12-17 points, or it could be any 18-plus pointer. After Shah’s three-heart pre-emptive overcall, South made a negative double. His four-diamond continuation was clearly forcing.
At the other table, the English North-South pair reached five diamonds by North, which was unbeatable. After East led a high heart, North could have taken 12 tricks, but decided on safety first.
Now back to Roberts’ lead problem. Many a West would be thinking it was lucky that the opponents stopped short of slam. His hand is dreadful and partner also announced weakness.
Roberts, though, wondered if there might be a way to defeat the contract. Maybe partner had a club void. So, West’s opening lead was the club three.
After Shah ruffed, the spotlight was on him. How could he get his partner on lead for a second club ruff? There seemed to be only two chances: the diamond ace or the heart queen. The first would still be available in a moment, but not the second. East shifted to the heart two. West won with his queen and gave his partner another ruff for down one. Terrific!

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