THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

Most bridge deals are a battle. One side is trying to execute a plan, while the other side is trying either to do the same or to thwart the opposition’s scheme.
In this deal, South was in three no-trump. What was the East-West strategy and how did South counter it? As a secondary issue, what do you think of the auction?
This deal occurred after the organized part of one of my “bridge camps without tents” (details on my web site). Four of my students were just shuffling, dealing and playing.
In the auction, I think North ought to have used Stayman to try to find a 4-4 spade fit. Here, that would have resulted in a contract of four spades. With the trumps 3-2 and the heart ace onside, this would have made easily, South losing one spade, one heart and one diamond.
In three no-trump, declarer started with only six top tricks: two spades, one heart (given the lead) and three clubs. He planned to play on diamonds to establish the extra tricks he needed, but that was going to give the lead back to the defenders.
East and West were hoping to establish and run the heart suit. To that end, West led the heart queen and East signaled encouragingly with her six.
South correctly did not win the first trick. He had to cut the communications between the defenders.
West continued with another heart. East won with her ace and returned the suit, but South won and played a diamond, hoping that either East would take the trick or that the hearts were splitting 4-4. As you can see, declarer was home with an overtrick.

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