The bridge talent in Broward County was augmented with the recent arrival of Mitch Chandler, formerly of Detroit. Chandler, a fine player with many years of experience, is at his best when the competition is tough and few events are tougher than the Mens Swiss Teams at the recent Southeastern Regional Tournament in which he placed third.
On todays deal Chandlers teammates easily made four hearts because of the favorable lie of the East-West cards. (Observe that all of declarers finesses will work.) Therefore, when the identical contract was reached at Chandlers table, all indications suggested that the deal would be a push and create no swing.
Not so! Chandler, West, had no attractive opening lead and chose to underlead his spade ace, a deceptive but risky play. Declarer naturally misguessed by calling for dummys jack; queen, ruff. A club was led to the king and the next club was taken by East, who returned a trump. Declarer properly won the heart ace (the finesse could not be repeated anyway) to ensure a ruff in dummy. A club was ruffed; a spade ruffed; then the heart queen was led to the king. East exited with the heart nine to Souths jack to reach a five-card ending.
Declarer next led a diamond toward dummy which remained with K-7 in spades and A-Q-7 in diamonds. Declarer could succeed simply by finessing the queen; but only two tricks had been lost so he correctly ducked to guard against a singleton king. East seized the opportunity to overtake partners nine with the jack to return a low spade.
From declarers point of view the diamond finesse was still a 50-50 proposition; but he was 90 percent convinced that East held the spade ace because of Wests opening lead. Hence, he discarded a diamond expecting the trick to be won by the spade king in dummy. Oops! Chandler grabbed the ace and the ice-cold contract was defeated.
© 1987 Richard Pavlicek