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Bridge 5/22

From South's count to West's lead

First, look only at the West hand. The bidding proceeds as given. Your partner's two-heart opening is weak, showing a decent six-card suit and 5-10 high-card points. You let the adverse vulnerability and your defensive prospects dissuade you from going to five hearts. Here, this would probably prove to be a bad decision. If South led the spade ace, which is a likely choice, five hearts would be unbeatable.
    What, though, would you lead against four spades?
    If you are suffering from deja vu, do not feel perturbed. Yes, this is the same deal as in yesterday's column. Then, West led the heart ace and another heart. South got a count of the East hand and made his contract, losing one spade, one heart and one club.
    You can see three probable defensive tricks: the spade king, heart ace and club ace. You cannot get a second heart, because your side has 10 hearts between you. A second spade is unlikely. A second club is possible. But if partner has the heart king, you should see your best shot to defeat South's contract: Lead your singleton diamond.
    East should realize that your lead is a singleton. And in this situation, when third hand cannot take the trick, he is expected to give a suit-preference signal. Here, he should play the diamond queen or eight, the unnecessarily high card being a signal for the higher-ranking of the other two side suits. Then, when you get in with your spade king, you shift to a low heart, putting East on lead so that he can return a diamond. You ruff and cash the club ace to defeat the contract.

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