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THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
A DISCARD THAT MAY SPEED UP THE PLAY

This week, we have been looking at unusual responses. Now, for a change of pace, let’s have an unusual defensive discard.
Look at only the North and East hands. South is in three no-trump. West leads the heart two: 10, jack, ace. Declarer then runs six club tricks. What discards should East make?
The bidding was interesting. South might have overcalled one no-trump, showing 15-plus to 18-minus points, a balanced hand and at least one heart stopper. It would have given a good description of his hand — but would still probably have reached the right contract from the wrong side. Note that three no-trump by North is unbeatable. (Five clubs by North is defeated only if East finds a most unlikely spade lead.)
After the two-diamond overcall and three-club advance, South might have cue-bid three hearts, hoping partner would convert to three no-trump with a heart stopper. But would North have treated queen-10-doubleton as sufficient?
Against three no-trump by South, West correctly led his heart two. Lead the lowest from any tripleton when you have not supported partner’s suit. But if you have supported, lead top of nothing, here the seven.
East should realize that if South has the ace and queen of diamonds, the contract is unstoppable. Declarer will take the diamond finesse after running the clubs. So, to speed up play, East’s first discard ought to be the diamond king!
If South does not immediately claim, East then pitches two spades and another diamond. Here, West clings to a guarded diamond queen and the contract goes down one.

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