POWER OF THE HIDDEN HAND Both vulnerable. East deals. Opening lead: Two of
East-West were playing “third and fifth” leads, where the lowest card is led from any holding with an odd number of cards — three, five, or seven. This lead is made without regard to the strength of the suit and no honor card is promised. This approach can be helpful when the key to the defense is working out declarer’s distribution. There are other hands, however, where knowing that partner has an honor in the suit when he leads a low card can be more important.
Declarer in today’s deal was Barbara Travis, a leading Australian player. She played low from dummy on the opening diamond lead, losing to East’s king. Travis won the spade shift with her ace and took a moment to think about the hand. The contract has little apparent play, seeming to have four inescapable losers. Declarer can scramble just enough entries to make the hand if East started with exactly three hearts to the ace, king, jack, but that was an unlikely lie of the cards.
Travis decided to try for a swindle, taking advantage of the fact that her hand was hidden from the defenders. She crossed to dummy with the jack of spades, drawing the last trump, and led a low diamond away from dummy’s queen. East, not knowing who held the jack, rose with the ace and Travis had pulled it off. She was able to discard her club loser on the queen of diamonds to make her contract.