This deal came up in the 1976 World Championship in Monte Carlo and proved difficult to bid to the best scoring pairs contract. About half of the field (44 tables) reached the indifferent contract of Six Hearts.

South usually opened Two No-trumps, the heart fit was established, and when North invited a slam, South accepted on the strength of his good controls. Was the heart slam a good prospect? Hardly, for with a sure spade loser, you need trumps to split 2-2 and the king with East - about a 25 per cent chance. Therefore, if you insist on playing in a slam, Six No-trumps depends on exactly the same and scores better.

Whether in game or a slam, all of the Souths duly made their 12 obvious tricks. Well, nearly all: one unfortunate Austrian declarer had Benito Garozzo on lead against his Six Hearts and Benito chose !9 for his opening lead.

The ten of hearts went to the king and ace, and declarer faced a nightmare decision when he later led a low trump from dummy and East followed with the six. Had Garozzo led a singleton !9, or had he chosen the nine from !J,9? There would have been no story, I suppose, if he had got it right, but is it not curious that the only possible way for the defenders to come to a trump trick was to lead one into declarer's tenace?