North-South vulnerable. South deals.
x10 7 2
uQ 9 8 5 4 3
xQ 4 xJ 8 3
uA J 6 uK 10 2
vJ 10 6 v9 5 4 2
wK J 7 6 3 wA 5 2
xA K 9 6 5
vA K 8 7
wQ 9 4
SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST
1x Pass 1NT Pass
2v Pass 2x Pass
Opening lead: Four of x
Sometimes a simple approach to the play is best. South looked for trouble on this deal from the European Championship, and found more than he could handle.
North’s one no trump was forcing and the correction to two spades denied a hand that was good enough to raise to two spades directly. That dashed any thoughts South might have had of getting to game.
West found the devilish lead of a low spade away from the queen. That could easily have given away the contract, but here it seemed to have awoken demons in declarer’s mind. The easy way to land the contract is to play for a 3-2 trump break — win the lead, cash a second spade and then play on diamonds, scoring four trump tricks, three diamonds and a diamond ruff.
Instead, declarer opted to take insurance against a bad trump break — virtually impossible after the play to trick three as the play developed. The jack of spades was taken with the king and the queen of clubs was led from hand. East won with ace and returned a low spade. Declarer finessed and was surprised to find that West won the trick with the queen.
Now West found the killing defense of underleading the ace of hearts! East’s king won and another spade left declarer without resource. Declarer still had to lose two more club tricks and a diamond for down one.
Would West really have led a singleton trump on this auction? In the words of Eliza Doolittle: “Not bloody likely.”
2013 Tribune Media Services