Sudden strength shows support
Robert Graves, whose most famous work was the historical novel “I, Claudius,” said, “Prose books are the show dogs I breed and sell to support my cat.”
In bridge, support with support is a policy that will give you the wherewithal to feed your cat if you play for a stake. Typically, this is done by raising partner’s suit, but occasionally it can happen in a more obscure manner. Look at today’s West hand and the auction. North’s one no-trump was forcing one round, showing 6-12 points. What did West do now? (In Standard American, North would have responded two clubs.)
West could have bid four (or five!) diamonds, but he chose another option: three hearts. Since West had not intervened over one spade with two hearts or three hearts, he could not have a good hand with a long suit; he had to have hearts and diamonds. It was possible that four hearts was East-West’s best contract. North scotched that idea by jumping to four spades to show three spades with, initially, game-invitational strength that had been upgraded — a nine-card fit is much better than eight, and the heart finesse was clearly winning.
After four spades was passed out, how did the defense go?
West led the club 10: four, ace, jack. East started to cash the diamond king (king from ace-king after trick one), but realized that West must have led a singleton. So, just in time, East led the club two, a suitpreference signal for diamonds. West ruffed, put partner on lead in diamonds and received a second ruff to defeat the contract.