North-South vulnerable. South deals.
x -A K 5
u -A 9 8 7 4
v -K 6 4
w -K 8
x -Q J 10 7 6 4 3 x -9 8 2
u -J 3 u -K 6 5 2
v -2 v -J 9 5 3
w -J 9 2 w -Q 4
x -Void
u -Q 10
v -A Q 10 8 7
w -A 10 7 6 5 3
The bidding:
1v 3x Dbl 4x
6w Pass 7v Pass
Pass Pass
Opening lead: Queen of x
Suppose you have the choice of two lines for your contract. One has a 60 percent chance of success, the other 30 percent. That does not mean that the better line guarantees that you will win the contract. Three times out of 10, the poorer line will succeed when the better line fails. It simply means that the better line will succeed twice as often even though it will fail four times out of 10. It is not always that clear, though.
This deal is from a British team event. At all the tables there was considerable pre-emptive action, though, and an auction similar to the above occurred at several tables. South chose to open one diamond, his shorter suit, to facilitate a rebid without having to make a strength-showing reverse. North felt South had to have the ace-queen on the suits he bid -- the fact that one queen turned out to be in hearts was a distinct disappointment.
West led queen of spades, and most declarers chose to win with the king, cash the king and ace of clubs and continue with a club. When West produce the remaining club, they ruffed with the king of diamonds, led a trump to the ace, returned to dummy with the ace of hearts, discarded a heart on the ace of spades and finessed the 10 of diamonds. When West showed out, declarer had a trump loser.
When the peripatetic Zia Mahmood, the former Pakistani internationalist who now roams the world using New York as his base, held the South cards, play started as above. After ruffing the third club with the king, he continued by leading a trump and finessing the eight! When that won, he was able to return to the table with the ace of hearts to finesse the 10 of trumps and coast home.
The postmortem revealed that, of the possible 32 ways that five trumps can divide, 25 allow both sides to either win or lose the slam. Of the remaining seven, the declarers who went down would succeed in four cases and Mahmood would win in three. Is table presence better than mathematical odds?
& copy; 2005 Tribune Media Services

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