A Shocker

Goren Bridge

Bob Jones

Dlr: North ♠ —
Vul: Both A K Q 10
K 6 3
♣ A Q 10 7 6 2
♠ J 10 7 6 ♠ K Q 5 4 2
J 9 6 2 8 5 4
J 5 A Q
♣ 8 5 3 ♣ K 4
♠ A 9 3
7 3
10 9 8 7 4 2
♣ J 9
North East South West
1♣* 1♠ Dbl** 3♠
Dbl 4♠ 5 All Pass

*Precision, at least 16 high-card points
**5-7 high-card points
Opening lead: ♠J

Today’s deal is from a high-level team competition not long ago. At the other table, North-South reached 3NT, down three after a spade lead when the club finesse failed. Four of the world’s best players were at this table. The South player has more than a half-dozen world championships to his name. North’s double at his second turn was for takeout. On the auction, the ♠A was quite likely opposite a void and might have little value on offense. Had South chosen to double four spades, a heart or a club lead would have led to down three and a score of plus 800. Even worse, South didn’t find a winning line to bring home his contract.

South won the opening spade lead in hand and immediately passed the 7. East won this with the queen, cashed the A, and exited with a high spade. Dummy ruffed, but there were only 10 tricks for declarer and he finished down one. Can you spot a winning line?

South can win the ♠A and ruff a spade in dummy right away. Three top hearts would allow a club discard by South. ♣A and a club ruff allows South to ruff his remaining spade in dummy. Now the lead of the K wins whenever diamonds split 2-2 and there is no club ruff, or 3-1 with a singleton queen or jack. That line of play would have produced 11 tricks. Not plus 800, but not bad with 3NT down three at the other table.