THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

Dorothy Miller Richardson, an English novelist, said, “If there was a trick, there must be a trickster.”
I suppose all bridge players could be called tricksters, even though some are more skillful at prestidigitation than others.
In this deal, South is trying to bring home nine tricks in no-trump. After West leads the diamond queen, what should declarer do? And suppose dummy’s hearts were A-Q-10. Would that change South’s plan?
After South opens two no-trump, showing a balanced hand with a good 20 to a so-so 22 points, North is right not to use Stayman with 4-3-3-3 distribution and such weak spades. Even if South has four spades, it is unlikely that four spades would make and three no-trump fail. The reverse would be more probable.
South starts with six top tricks: one spade, three hearts and two diamonds. Obviously, declarer should try to collect three club winners — but how should he play the suit?
This is a great example of “lead up to honors.” South should plan to cross to dummy three times with a heart and to play a club toward his hand. Whenever East has the club ace or the suit splits 3-3, the contract will come home. Note that leading a club honor from hand leads to defeat with this layout.
If dummy’s hearts are A-Q-10, it is a much tougher problem. If East has ace-fourth of clubs, South needs three heart entries, so should play a heart to the 10, hoping West has the jack. But that risks going down when clubs are 3-3. The odds of each line are almost equal — guess well.

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