FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA

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THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
LEAD PARTNER’S SUIT, EXCEPT WHEN YOU DON’T

Kin Hubbard, a journalist and humorist who died in 1930, said, “Everything comes to him who waits, except a loaned book.”
I assume he means that if you lend someone a book, you will never get it back. I agree with that. However, the word “except” applies to this deal. What should West lead against four hearts?
East opened with a weak two-bid, showing a respectable six-card suit and 6-10 high-card points. Then, after South overcalled three hearts, West raised spades, applying the Law of Total Tricks. With nine trumps, bid to the nine-trick level. However, in this instance, it was perhaps not the best choice. It effectively pushed North into bidding four hearts. And if West had then bid four spades, he would have given the opponents a fielder’s choice — double or bid higher. Here, though, he allowed the prevailing vulnerability to keep him quiet.
There was a strong case for jumping straight to four spades over three hearts, to pressure North. And pressured him it would have. He might well have gone to five hearts.
Now to West’s lead. It is normal to select partner’s suit — except when you have an ace-king holding in an unbid side suit. Here, West should definitely lead the club ace. East will signal with the eight, starting a high-low (an echo) with his doubleton. West will cash the club king and lead a third round. East will ruff it and the diamond ace will defeat the contract.
Note that after a spade lead, declarer will ruff his low spades in the dummy, draw trumps and lose only three tricks.

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