THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

James Carville, a political commentator, said, “The best time to plant an oak tree was 25 years ago. The second best time is today.”
In yesterday’s deal, East used the bidding and early play to place the missing high cards and to work out the best defense against four hearts.
Here is a second deal along the same lines. South is in four hearts. West leads the spade queen. South wins with his ace and plays a trump to dummy’s queen. What should East do?
South rebid three no-trump because North might have raised hearts with only three-card support if he had a minimum opening bid with, for example, 1-3-5-4 distribution. Here, though, North corrected to the heart game because he had two unstopped suits and four strong hearts.
East should wonder which four tricks his side might win. Since West’s opening lead marks South with the spade ace and king, there are no spade winners available. East has one heart trick. There are no diamond winners, because even if South is missing the king, the finesse is working. So the defenders need three club tricks, or two clubs and a club ruff.
This should make East’s path clear. He must win with his heart ace and shift to the club five.
Now the spotlight falls on South. If he rises with his club king, he will make the contract (with an overtrick if he draws trumps, cashes his spade and diamond winners, and endplays West with his club queen). But if South finesses his jack, West wins with his queen, returns the club two and receives a club ruff for down one.

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