Bridge

You may remember a hand from last week (played in the Macallan Invitation Pairs in London) where Zia Mahmood threw in a psychic double of a cue bid with only three low cards in the suit, thereby persuading his victim (Omar Sharif) to misplay his slam contract. This deal, from a later round of the event, illustrates the downside of his coup.

South opened One Diamond, North responded Two Clubs, and South jumped to Three Diamonds. North explored with Three Hearts and Zia, as East, interjected a double. (He hates to say "No bid".) After two passes, North bid Three No-trumps, South advanced (rather dangerously) with Four No- trumps and North ended the auction with a jump to Six Diamonds.

On lead, as West, Gabriel Chagas must have had Zia's earlier coup in mind, for instead of the ace and another heart, he led a spade. This allowed declarer to make an immediate claim of his contract with an overtrick.

It was a curious deal. Against Three No-trumps by North, East has no trouble in selecting a low heart for his opening lead and so collecting five tricks and 100 points. In an odd way, perhaps the safest contract would have been Six No-trumps by North! Whenever this was reached, East felt that it was far too dangerous for him to lead a heart away from his king and, as you can see, any alternative leads to North-South making all 13 tricks.

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