The Brick Wall of China
When Lavazza faced off against CCBA they found themselves banging their heads against a brick wall.
West led the ten of hearts and the defenders played three rounds of the suit, declarer winning with the queen, crossing to the ace of diamonds and running the jack of clubs, +430.
East led the two of hearts and East put in the nine allowing declarer to win with the jack. That turned out be a very astute move, as declarer now played the jack of clubs and when East followed impassively with the seven he went up with the king – and down went the contract.
Don’t look away now, as we come to what Zia Mahmood described as the best hand of the tournament so far:
Unwilling to open a red suit East started with the ten of spades and declarer won with the jack, cashed the ace of clubs and played a club to the jack and king, East pitching the six of hearts. West returned the seven of spades and declarer won with the ace, crossed to dummy with a spade (West pitching the two of hearts) and cashed the queen of clubs pitching a diamond as West followed with the ten and East threw the nine of spades.
Now declarer did something very subtle – he played a heart to the ten, creating the impression that he had started with the ]AJ10. East won with the queen and played the king of diamonds, collecting the four from partner.
In the cold light of day you could argue that West’s ten of clubs must have shown a preference for hearts over diamonds, but that is easy to overlook and declarer’s deception was rewarded when East continued with the six of diamonds. That got declarer up to nine tricks and when East pitched a diamond on the ace of spades declarer had an overtrick.
Zia was a big supporter of North’s choice of opening bid, but when South was unwilling to dredge up a 1NT response he was left to play there. From memory he took ten tricks.
East led the seven of hearts and West took the ace, cashed the king of diamonds and the ace of clubs and played a second club. Declarer won with dummy’s king, played a spade to the queen, drew trumps via the marked finesse and was home, +730.
Declarer ruffed the spade lead and attempted to cash the top diamonds. North ruffed and forced declarer with a spade. When a club to the jack held declarer ruffed a third spade and played the ace of clubs and a club. North won and switched to the king of hearts so the contract was three down – still a swing to CCBA who had dominated the first half of the match.