Bridge: Defence holds firm

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The Independent Culture
PERHAPS the most intriguing deal from the recent Macallan International Pairs Championship was one where the eventual winners (Balicki and Zmudzinski of Poland) missed a chance for a spectacular play. The defenders had made an excellent try, but it should not have proved good enough.

East-West game; dealer North



A K 7 6

7 4 3 2

K 7 5 4


K Q 10 8 4 2


J 6 5

A Q 6


A 6

9 4 3 2

K 10 8

J 10 8 2


J 9 5 3

Q J 8 5

A Q 9

9 3

After two passes, South (Balicki) opened very lightly with One Heart. West overcalled One Spade and North bid Three Spades - a raise to Four Hearts with short spades - which East doubled, promising a top honour in his partner's suit. South bid Four Hearts and all passed. West led a low spade to his partner's ace and East (Levy of France) switched accurately to a low trump. Declarer did well to win this in hand, and he followed with a low club.

You can see what would happen if West had played low. After winning with the king, declarer would give up a club trick and West, on lead, would be unable to play a second round of trumps. Then the diamond finesse and a cross-ruff lead to 10 tricks.

Mouiel met the threat elegantly, when he unblocked with his queen of clubs in the first round of the suit. Dummy's king won, but now it was East who was able to win the next club lead in order to play a second trump. Now declarer was held to nine tricks.

Very neat, but can you see how South could have countered this? He should allow West's queen of clubs to win. West would be unable to lead a trump, and later South again leads towards dummy's king of clubs. He now has a discard for his losing diamond, and a cross-ruff lands his contract.