Clever bidding and cleverer defense
Albert Einstein said, “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.” Presumably the wise person has the answer before the problem occurs. Clever people tend to play bridge better than the less-clever -- but not always. One of the weakest players I ever saw got a first-class honors degree and went on to gain a Ph.D.
It is always fun to find a clever piece of declarer-play or defense. What can East-West do that qualifies in this deal, where South is in three spades? The bidding featured two relatively modern conventions. First, West made a Snapdragon Double, which showed length (five or six cards) in the unbid suit (clubs) and tolerance for partner’s suit (typically honor doubleton; but maybe three low if the doubler’s suit is particularly strong; or at a real pinch, even a low doubleton). North’s spade raise guaranteed four-card support, because with only three spades he would have made a Support Redouble. When East competed with three clubs, South bid three spades because he knew his side had a ninecard fit. At first glance, South will lose only two hearts and two clubs. But the defenders have an extra trick up their sleeves. West leads the club ace. Since the queen is on the board, East signals count, playing the eight, starting a high-low (echo) with an even number. West cashes the club king, then shifts to the heart queen, East encouraging with his seven. East takes the second heart and returns a low heart. When West ruffs with the spade jack, the uppercut promotes a trump trick for East.