ACES ON BRIDGE
Italy defeated the USA1 team by a mere 18 IMPs in the final of the 2005 Bermuda Bowl in Estoril, Portugal.
This deal was the second board of the final, but it was a declaration of intent. Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell bid to the normal three no-trump, a contract which could technically be defeated only on a spade lead. A diamond might have done the job as well. Lorenzo Lauria duly fished out a spade, playing through dummy’s second suit. A top heart was surely an alternative, but with Rodwell’s having announced length there, likely at least five after his fourth-suit-forcing call, that was less attractive.
That was by no means the end of the hand, though. Alfredo Versace still had to read his partner’s spade-spot and shift to hearts. With dummy’s diamonds ready to run, Versace correctly entered cash-out mode and, reasoning that his side would have to run the hearts, he rose with the spade ace and plonked the heart jack on the table, scooping up four heart tricks when Lauria turned up with A-K-10-8. It might have been right to put the spade jack in at trick one. Partner could hold the spade king and heart ace-queen, but perhaps a spade lead from an honor would have been less attractive, and therefore less likely.
In the other room, the American West led the spade two to trick one, and the contract made when East put in the spade jack.