THE BEST DEFENSE OF THE OLYMPIAD?

By Alan Truscott

 

Maybe the best defense of the Olympiad (Rhodos) occurred on the following deal, starring Branko Spiljak of Croatia.

 

Love All                 S  K Q 6 2

Dealer South             H  J 7 5

                         D  A 4

                         C  K 6 5 2

       S  J 9 7 5 4                      S  T 3

       H  9 6 4 2                        H  A K 8

       D  K J 8                          D  T 6 5

       C  8                              C  Q T 7 4 3

                         S  A 8

                         H  Q T 3

                         D  Q 9 7 3 2

                         C  A J 9

 

     West           North          East           South

      -              -              -             1D

     Pass           1S             Pass           1NT

     Pass           3NT            All Pass

 

Normal bidding led to a normal contract, and Goran Borevkovic, as West, led the H6. At other tables, the defense cleared hearts and South had a clear road to nine tricks. Declarer won the third round of hearts in dummy and finessed the CJ successfully. Then he cashed top clubs and top spades, after which a spade lead endplayed West and forced a lead from the DK at the finish.

 

Spiljak as East found two brilliant moves to prevent his partner from sharing the fate of his counterparts. At the second trick he shifted to the D10 which was covered by the queen, king and ace. South finessed the CJ successfully, and was in this position:

 

                         S  K Q 6 2

                         H  J 7

                         D  4

                         C  K 6 5

       S  J 9 7 5 4                      S  T 3

       H  9 4 2                          H  A 8

       D  J 8                            D  6 5

       C  -                              C  Q T 7 4

                         S  A 8

                         H  Q T

                         D  9 7 3 2

                         C  A 9

 

South led the H10 to dummy's jack, and Spiljak . . .DUCKED!

 

Now there was no way for South to come home. If he cashed any winners, he would set up tricks for the defense while they still had communications.

But if Spiljak had taken his HA in the diagramed position, West would have been squeeze-endplayed in spades and diamonds as before, with no way out.

 

This was reported by the victim in the South seat, George Mittelman of Canada. He was full of admiration for the card

playing skills of his Croatian opponents.