East-West vulnerable. West deals.
x A Q 10 5
u 7 4
v A 8 3
w J 8 6 5
x K 8 7 3 x J 6
u A K J 6 5 2 u Q 10 9 3
v Q 5 v J 10 9 6 4 2
w 3 w A
x 9 4 2
v K 7
w K Q 10 9 7 4 2
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
1u Dbl 4u 5w
Pass Pass Pass
Opening lead: King of u
The peripatetic Zia Mahmood is one of the world's great players. He has represented both Pakistan and the United States in international competition, and spends a good part of the year in England. This tour de force is an excellent example of his ability.
A competitive auction resulted in his buying the contract at five clubs. Since there was no way to avoid losing two tricks to the aces of hearts and clubs, the success of the contract hinged on his losing no spade trick. Looking at his hand and dummy, it seemed that a double finesse for the king-jack of spades would be required. However, he was in no hurry to commit to that.
West started with the king and ace of hearts, declarer ruffing. To find out as much as possible about the hand, Zia cashed the king-ace of diamonds and ruffed a diamond high. His technique was rewarded when West discarded a heart on this trick. Since the contract could not be brought home unless West held the king of spades, Zia elected to play East for the ace of trumps, and a 2-4-6-1 distribution.
Backing his judgment, Zia continued by finessing the queen of spades and, when that held, cashing the ace. When East followed with the jack, a trump from dummy fetched the ace and a sigh from East, since he was trapped in an endplay. With nothing left but red cards, East was forced to concede a ruff-sluff and South's spade loser vanished.
Note that, if West shifts to a trump at trick two, the contract will be defeated. East would win and can exit safely with a heart, and declarer cannot avoid losing a spade for the setting trick.
XThis column is written by Tannah Hirsch and Omar Sharif. For information about Charles Goren's newsletter for bridge players, call (800) 788-1225 or write Goren Bridge Letter, P.O. Box 4410, Chicago, Ill. 60680
& copy;2004 Tribune Media Services