THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

Vinoba Bhave, an Indian advocate for human rights who died in 1982, said, “Innumerable actions are going on through us all the time. If we started counting them, we should never come to an end.”
Luckily, it is not that tough at the bridge table. But the more counting you do, the better you will play — our theme this week.
In today’s deal, look at the auction and the West and North hands. South is in four spades. West leads the diamond ace. How should he continue the defense?
North, holding a low doubleton, reasonably chose to use Stayman. (If he had responded three no-trump, that contract could also have been defeated.) South correctly rebid two hearts when holding four cards in each major. North jumped to three no-trump. And South, knowing his partner had four spades, corrected back to game in that strain.
When the dummy comes down, a good defender first checks out the high-card points. South indicated 15-17, dummy has 13, and West holds seven. That leaves 3-5 for East. So East could have one winner to go with West’s diamond ace-king. But where is the fourth defensive trick?
Now count the suit lengths. Dummy has three hearts, South showed four, and West has five. East must have a singleton.
This is West’s best chance. At trick two — not after cashing the diamond king, a card needed as an entry — West shifts to a heart. Then, East can take the first or second round of spades, return a diamond to his partner’s king, and receive a heart ruff to defeat the contract.

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