SO often fortune favours the bold at the bridge table. Take this deal from the fateful quarterfinal match against the Netherlands at the World Bridge Games in Wroclaw.
Would you have essayed Three Spades over East’s preempt? It’s hardly textbook—normally, you should have opening values to bid over an opposing preempt. (1) Weak with seven decent Diamonds. (2) The vulnerability is a doubleedged sword. if your bid backfires (doubled), you lose substantially more when doubled. However, if there’s a game contract to be made, you score substantially more when vulnerable. (3) not a mile from a Three notrump gamble, but partner doesn’t have to have such a good suit at favourable vulnerability. indeed, most modern experts would open Three Diamonds if the King of Diamonds were the two of clubs.
West brightly kicked off with the Queen of Clubs, seeking to set up a slow trick. Declarer won dummy’s King, led a Spade to the King (relieved trumps were not four-nil given West’s double), then led up a Heart, West playing low (best). Crunch time.
Declarer knew he had a Spade loser (because of West’s double) in addition to the two red Aces. Therefore, he couldn’t afford a Club loser. Needing three Heart winners in dummy for two Club discards in hand, declarer made the necessary deep finesse of the ten (key play).
The ten of Hearts winning, declarer crossed to the Ace of Spades (East discarding), then led up his second Heart, putting West in an unpleasing dilemma. If he rose with the Ace, dummy’s Kingqueen would provide two Club discards, so West played low.
Winning dummy’s King of Hearts, declarer ruffed a Heart and led up a second Club. The combined power of his nine and dummy’s eight meant that he had a third Club trick by force.
If West played low, dummy’s eight-spot would win whereupon declarer would be able to chalk up an unexpected overtrick, then cashing the Ace of Clubs, ruffing a fourth Heart and ruffing a fourth Club, so West split his Clubs, inserting the ten.
Declarer won dummy’s Ace, led back the eight to West’s Knave and let West cash but the Queen of Spades and the Ace of Diamonds. With the nine of Clubs promoted, that was doubled game made.
Our final Wroclaw deal was a tricky Five Clubs, with the weak hand declaring (how often that seems to happen).
West led the King of Spades and continued with a second Spade (best). Declarer ruffed low and considered his dilemma. If he led a Club to the Queen, West would win and lead a third Spade.
Forced to ruff with dummy’s Ace, East’s ten would be promoted—down one. Given that any specific Club (relevantly the ten) rated to be in a three-card holding rather than a two-card holding, at trick two, declarer led and passed dummy’s eight of Clubs (key play), a finesse against the ten.
As declarer hoped, the eight drew West’s King. He ruffed West’s third Spade with dummy’s Ace, cashed the Ace-king of Hearts, ruffed a Heart, cashed the Queenknave of Clubs drawing East’s ten and claimed his 11-trick game.