THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

Joseph-Marie de Maistre, a French philosopher, writer, lawyer and diplomat who died in 1821, said, “It is one of man’s curious idiosyncrasies to create difficulties for the pleasure of resolving them.”
At the bridge table, we create deals, either by hand or with a computer program, and then enjoy trying to solve them. Most can be handled correctly if our analysis is accurate. But occasionally a layout will arise that requires doing something so abnormal that it is easy to overlook.
Cover the West and South hands. West leads the heart eight against four spades. After East takes dummy’s 10 with his queen, what should he do next?
If West had opened one heart, North would have overcalled one no-trump. But in the balancing position (a pass by North would have ended the auction), one no-trump would have shown only 11-15 points. Then, after South advanced with one spade, indicating 0-8 points, North’s raise to two spades promised 17-19 points.
East has three defensive tricks: his aces and the heart queen. If the heart king will automatically score later, East can cash those aces and exit with a diamond. Here, though, that does not work.
East should realize that West has led a singleton or high from a doubleton. (West would have led low from a tripleton because he had not supported hearts.) Then, if East makes the weird-looking lead of a heart at trick two, he will defeat the contract. Here, South wins in the dummy and plays a trump, but East takes the trick, cashes the diamond ace, and gives West a heart ruff for down one.

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