THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder

Tom Hodgkinson is a British writer who has a relaxed approach to life, letting it come to him. He said, “We no longer sing and dance. We don’t know how to. Instead, we watch other people sing and dance on the television screen. Christmas, which was once a festival of active enjoyment, has turned into a binge of purely passive pleasures.”
Do you agree with that?
This week we are comparing active and passive defense. The bidding is the first piece of evidence. In today’s deal, look at the auction and West’s hand. What should West lead against four spades?
North’s three-heart response was a transfer bid, showing five or more spades and at least zero points. His three-no-trump rebid offered a choice of games. Here South would have done well to settle for three no-trump, which has nine top tricks. But it was normal to bid four spades with such weak clubs and the potential blockage in spades.
It is very dangerous to lead around to a big balanced hand. West ought to select a trump. (A club is safe here, but I dislike leading from a jack.)
South can make his contract if he plays with mirrors, catching West in a red-suit endplay. The curious may work out the details. But declarer is likely to use his two club entries to dummy to try each red-suit finesse and go down when they both fail. He would lose one heart, two diamonds and one club.
However, if West leads actively, picking the heart four, he concedes the contract immediately.

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