One of the qualities that makes Zia Mahmood such a dangerous opponent is his sense of timing, particularly when it comes to unusual actions. Zia's decision on this deal helped Zia and his partner, Howard Weinstein, to a victory in the event by more than two boards.


                         Dlr: North, Vul: None


                            S  A Q

                            H  J 9 6 5

                            D  K 7 6 2

                            C  6 5 3

            S  10 8 4 3                     S  5 2

            H  8 7                          H  K Q 10 4 2

            D  A                            D  10 9 4 3

            C  K Q J 8 4 2                  C  10 9

                            S  K J 9 7 6

                            H  A 3

                            D  Q J 8 5

                            C  A 7


                WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

                 -         Weinstein        -           Zia

                 -           Pass          Pass         1S

                3C           Dbl           Pass         ?


Mere mortals would probably bid 3D with the South cards. Not Zia. He passed!


The defense was deadly accurate.


Weinstein led the SA and switched to the C6, an important choice of cards. Zia let dummy's C9 hold the trick. When declarer continued with a spade from dummy, Zia hopped up with the king, felling Weinstein's queen. When Zia cashed the CA, removing dummy's other trump, Weinstein followed with the C3. The echo indicated three trumps, so Zia had no problem cashing the SJ and giving his partner a spade ruff. Zia later collected the HA for plus 300 and 34 of 38 matchpoints.


Early endplay


On this deal, Howard Weinstein and Zia Mahmood didn't get to a sketchy game that just happens to make, but Weinstein managed to get a good result by accurate card reading.


                         Dlr: East, Vul: Both


                            S  10 7

                            H  J 10 9 4

                            D  J 9 7 4

                            C  Q 10 9

            S  4 3                          S  A K J 8 6 5

            H  A 7 6 5 3 2                  H  K Q

            D  6 5 2                        D  A Q 10 3

            C  6 3                          C  5

                            S  Q 9 2

                            H  8

                            D  K 8

                            C  A K J 8 7 4 2


                WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

                Zia           -          Weinstein       -

                 -            -            1S           2C

                Pass         Pass          Dbl          Pass

                2H           Pass          2S           All Pass


South led the CA and continued with the king. Weinstein ruffed and cashed the SA. He followed with the HK, noting the fall of the 8 from South (North played the jack). Weinstein then cashed the DA, noting the fall of another 8 from South.


Reading the cards accurately, Weinstein played a low diamond from his hand. South won but was down to all black cards. Rather than give Weinstein a ruff and sluff with the play of a club, South got out with a spade, perhaps hoping partner had the jack.


Weinstein won the SJ and could have taken the rest of the tricks on a red-suit squeeze against North even if he had not had a finesse position in diamonds.


Plus 200 was good for 26 of 38 matchpoints.



False pretenses


You can never tell what Zia Mahmood is going to do at the bridge table -- and he is one of the most creative players in the world. His falsecard on this deal helped Zia and Howard Weinstein win the event going away.


                         Dlr: West, Vul: None


                            S  7 3

                            H  A 9 8

                            D  K Q 3

                            C  A 8 7 5 4

           S  K Q 10 9 8 6                 S  A 4

           H  10 4                         H  Q 7 3

           D  7 5 2                        D  J 10 9

           C  Q 2                          C  K 10 9 6 3

                            S  J 5 2

                            H  K J 6 5 2

                            D  A 8 6 4

                            C  J


                WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

                 -         Weinstein        -           Zia

                2S           Dbl           Pass         4H

                All Pass


West started with the SK, overtaken by East with the ace. Back came a spade, and Zia deviously put up the SJ. When West continued with the S8, Zia saw an opportunity to greatly improve his chances in the heart game.


Zia knew that if he ruffed, reducing dummy to two trumps, East would overruff. Zia might still guess hearts, but he would not be able to do so and still have trump left in dummy to deal with diamonds in case the suit broke 4-2, which was likely.


Zia's solution was to play a diamond from dummy as though the spade card in his hand was going to win the trick. East, of course, was taken in and ruffed his partner's good S8. Because the opposing diamonds broke 3-3, Zia was going to make the game even if he ruffed in dummy, but his play could have made a difference.