THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

This season’s Christmas Competition drew a record entry, perhaps because many answered the declarer-play problem correctly. And some gave slight variations on the published solution that were also accurate.
After I checked all the answers to the subsidiary questions, the best entry came from Moray King of Orem, Utah. Tied for second were Craig Cordes of Baton Rouge, La.; Bruce Perry of Riverview, New Brunswick, Canada; and Jim Ritts of Knoxville, Tenn.
Everyone who got the first question right is named on my website (phillipalderbridge.com).
Now let’s look at today’s deal, in which responder has his sixth really weak hand of the week. It could have been right to pass over two no-trump, which showed a good 22 to 24 points. But with a five-card major and a couple of points, it was reasonable to transfer into spades, then rebid three no-trump to offer a choice of games. South, since he had three spades and no diamond stopper, preferred four spades. (Note that the defenders should take five diamond tricks against three no-trump.)
South loses the first two tricks in diamonds. Let’s assume the defenders shift to a heart. How should declarer continue?
South can afford one trump loser, not two. He should plan to take two spade finesses. At trick three, declarer overtakes his heart jack with dummy’s queen (entry one) and plays a spade to his jack. West wins and returns a heart. South takes the trick, ruffs his last diamond on the board (entry two), plays a spade to his 10, cashes the spade ace, and claims.

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