Wednesday 20 January 1999
East opened Three Hearts, South overcalled with Three Spades, and West raised to Four Hearts. Hoping for a favourable lead (or that the contract might prove a lay-down) North jumped direct to Six Spades. All passed, although West contemplated a sacrifice in Seven Hearts (which would have cost only 800 points unless South had found an unlikely diamond lead), and West led !10 against the slam.
Neither of North's wishes came true - the lead did not help, and there were only 11 tricks in sight, for it seemed sure that West held 2A. Then South saw a glimmer of light: if, indeed, West held 2A and also length in diamonds, he might well be put under pressure. So declarer ruffed all of his heart losers on the table, coming back to hand with top trumps. Then he played off his remaining trumps.
With seven cards left, West still had to find two discards from #J 9 8 2 2AQ10. If he had parted with two clubs, then dummy would come down to #AKQ 27 5 and a low club from declarer's hand would establish 2K for his 12th trick. Thinking ahead, West saw the danger and parted with #2 and 2Q.
Convinced that West had started with five diamonds and that 2A was now bare, South led 24. To his chagrin he now lost two club tricks and found he had been in a position where he could have cashed four diamonds for his contract.
The Macallan International Pairs is at the White House Hotel (Gt Portland St Tube), London. Sessions: today 5.30pm-11pm; Thurs 12pm-4pm, 5.30pm- 11pm; Fri 12.30pm-6pm. Tickets at the door.
Game all; dealer East
410 9 7 6 5 2
#A K Q 4
27 5 3
4J 3 4none
!10 9 3 !A K J 7 6 5 4
#J 9 8 2 #10 6 5
2A Q 10 9 2J 6 2
4A K Q 8 4
!Q 8 2
2K 8 4
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