THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

William Shakespeare wrote, “Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends.”
How wrong could he be when applied to bridge? Many players make mistakes because they play too quickly. In particular, when a defender is on lead, a delay or two … or three … for analysis is rarely a bad idea.
In this deal, for example, West leads the heart two against four spades. What should East do?
North responds with four clubs, a perfect splinter bid, showing at least four-card spade support, game-going values and at most a singleton in clubs.
East was tempted to overcall four hearts. However, the vulnerability was unfavorable, East presumably had two cast-iron defensive tricks (so the opponents did not have a slam), and North-South owned the master suit. (Note that if East does intervene with a four-heart bid, South should pass. North would be delighted to double for penalty and the price would be 1,100 or 1,400.)
East knows that his partner has led a singleton. So, many a defender wins with his heart ace and immediately gives his partner a ruff. After that, there is no longer a defense.
East should consider his target. Four tricks are needed, not three. From the point-count, West is known to have a Yarborough. So, East must organize his diamond ruff before giving West his spade ruff. At trick two, East should shift to his diamond. Declarer will win in the dummy and play a spade, but East takes the trick and leads the heart eight, a suit-preference signal for diamonds. West, after ruffing, returns a diamond, and East’s ruff defeats the contract.

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