THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THE LEAD POINTS TO THE RIGHT DEFENSE
Frank A. Clark, a lawyer and politician who died in 1936, said, “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
Sometimes the opening lead shows the path to the defeat of the contract … if one of the defenders finds the right subsequent play.
First, though, look only at the West hand. What should he lead against three no-trump?
Some players open two no-trump with 19 high-card points, especially when they have a good five-card suit. It can be reasonable, but not with that North hand. Almost half of the points are in quacks (queens and jacks), which is not good, and there is one unstopped suit. One diamond is correct.
Length rules against no-trump, so West should lead a heart. And because he has no honor in the suit, he should choose the nine — top of nothing when the top two cards are touching. (When you have something like 9-7-6-4-3, lead the seven, the second-highest.)
South has seven top tricks: three hearts and four clubs. He will take the first trick with dummy’s queen and play on diamonds. What should East do?
The opening lead marks South with the heart ace and king. So he cannot also have the spade ace, because then he would have been too strong to respond one no-trump. East should grab the trick and shift to his spade four, the low card guaranteeing at least one honor in the suit. West will win with his ace and return the spade eight, the higher card from a remaining doubleton. East will take three more spade tricks for down one.