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Bridge 2/23

From the bottom to the top of the run

David Russell said, "The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn."
    Reworking that for our world, we get: "One of the hardest things in bridge is knowing when to play high and when to go low."
    In yesterday's deal, East was playing third hand high, so from Q-J-4, he played the jack. This deal features the converse of this: If you cannot win a trick, play the top of touching honor cards (assuming you can afford to do so, of course).
    After South opened one spade, West made a modern overcall, bidding despite a relatively weak suit and low point-count. North responded three clubs, planning to bid four spades on the next round. (He could have cue-bid three hearts over two hearts immediately to show his spade support, but he correctly highlighted his excellent club suit in case either a slam is makable, or his side was about to be involved in a five-level guessing game, having to decide between doubling five hearts and going on to five spades.)
    When West leads the heart ace, East must drop the queen, showing the queen and the jack. (The queen is highly unlikely to be a singleton, because that would give South five hearts. Also, with doubleton Q-x, East would play his spot-card, not the queen.)
    This gives West the key: At trick two, he should lead a low heart to put his partner on lead with the heart jack (or a heart ruff) for the lethal diamond-queen shift.
    Note that after the opening lead, this is the only defense to defeat the contract.

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