THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

Nancy Mitford, an English novelist, said, “I have only read one book in my life and that is ‘White Fang.’ It’s so frightfully good that I’ve never bothered to read another.”
That is hard to believe — she must have read her own books!
One of the arts of good bridge is reading the cards — working out who has what from those played. That is important for West in this deal. How should he plan the defense against three no-trump? West leads the heart four: three, jack, queen. South plays a club to dummy’s king, then runs the diamond jack. After winning with his queen, how should West continue?
South starts with only five top tricks: two hearts (given trick one) and three clubs. Obviously he will play on diamonds for more winners, with spades on the back burner if necessary.
Several years ago, during an interview, I was asked what is the one thing I teach my students that they never seem to get straight and I cannot understand why. This is what I answered. When playing third hand high on defense, you play the bottom of equally powerful cards.
In this deal, when East plays the heart jack at trick one, he denies holding the 10. So West, reading the cards, knows that South started with the heart ace, queen and 10. This means that leading another heart cannot be right. West needs to get East on play for a heart lead through South.
Enter the second key rule: If you lead low from length, you guarantee at least one honor in that suit. Here, West should shift to the spade eight, high denying an honor. Then East should win with his ace and return the heart seven, resulting in South’s going down two.

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