The Best Was the Worst at Nevada City
Having recently played every session at my favorite sectional in my favorite town, I can confidently claim that Board #14 from the Friday afternoon Open Pairs was at the same time the most interesting and the most poorly handled deal of the entire tournament:
This hand having been played twenty-seven times, it is entirely possible that the bidding was different on each occasion. After north opened the bidding and east players made some sort of preempt in hearts, five pairs arranged to play in notrump at various levels, all winning the obvious twelve tricks. At the other tables, spades were trump, and contracts ranged from game to a grand slam. I am pleased to announce that my future teammate in the Swiss was one of just two declarers to take thirteen tricks; all the others managed to find just twelve.
And that's the "worst" part of today's deal, because winning all the tricks is virtual child's play, and at no risk whatever!
There is more than one way to handle this situation; but the easiest way is
to win the opening heart lead in dummy, discarding a club. Then declarer
leads a spade to the ace, getting the bad news in that suit. Now dummy's
three top diamonds are played off. If that suit splits
3-3, then trumps
are drawn, because the long diamond is a winner. If west started with four or
more diamonds, then declarer plays ace and a club ruff, diamond ruff, high trumps.
Should west ruff any diamond honor, then declarer can win the return, draw
the last trump, and ruff the diamond loser at his leisure. (For the
record, if east holds the long diamonds along with the heart honors, then
thirteen tricks could be won by a
non-percentage line that would effect a trump
squeeze against east, irrespective of the location of the club king.)
It's a real shame that fully twenty declarers would insult themselves in such a fashion; for this deal was a textbook exercise in safety play.