At every major championship, the journalists are always on the lookout for something brilliant, but it is frequently the case that on most of the potential deals no one finds the winning line.
England’s Paul Barden wondered if anyone had played in 6 on this deal from Round 14:
He imagined this scenario:
You open a strong club, North overcalls in spades, and you reach 6 (this didn’t happen that I know of, but it could).
North leads a trump (or a diamond) but let’s say a trump.
You win, cash a diamond, ruff a diamond, bad news. North thinks for a long time then discards a spade – he’s worked out that if he ruffs high and returns a trump you’ll discard one of dummy’s hearts on his ruff, and another on the king of diamonds, then he’ll be caught in a trump squeeze as you ruff diamonds.
You place him with the jack of clubs for his think. It’s no good crossing in spades to ruff another diamond, or North will ruff up and give south a spade ruff. Nor can you use the ace of hearts. So you cross in trumps and lead a diamond. He discards another spade for the same reason. As before it does no good to cross in spades to lead another diamond – North can ruff high and lead a spade honour, breaking up the squeeze. So, you change tack, draw the last trump and lead the king of diamonds in this position:
North is caught in an unusual strip-squeeze. If he pitches a heart, you discard a spade from dummy and endplay him with ace and queen of hearts. If he pitches a spade, you discard a heart and play three rounds of spades, endplaying him to give you a heart trick and an entry to dummy.
Quite a hand, so I checked the records to see if anyone had reached 6. In all three series, only one pair had matched the first part of the equation.
This was the auction from the Closed Room in the match between Austria & Norway in the d’Orsi Trophy.
North led the two of diamonds and declarer won and correctly played back a diamond. North refused to ruff, pitching a spade and declarer ruffed, came to hand with a club, ruffed a diamond, came to hand with a club and ruffed yet another diamond.
This is a clear improvement on the line already described; it was clear from my conversation with declarer that he had worked out that if North ruffed in with the jack of clubs at any point he would be subjected to a squeeze. When he refused to do so declarer came to hand with the ace of hearts and drew the last trump. He could now play the queen of hearts, establishing a twelfth trick.
During my research I discovered that a couple of pairs had bid to 6NT, North leading the queen of spades.
Declarer can win in hand, unblock the clubs and run the ten of spades. Suppose he then plays the Q? North must duck, but then declarer cashes the AK, extracting any potential exit cards from North and plays the ace of hearts and a heart. North wins but has to give dummy the last three tricks. A beautiful combination of a Dentist’s Coup and Stepping Stone.
(No doubt you have noticed that a minor suit lead defeats 6NT.)
The opportunity was missed, as 6NT failed at both tables.
Now I’ll leave you with a question:
Is this deal a contender for best played hand, best bid hand, or even, considering North’s refusal to ruff in, best defence?