A hand from Poland vs Portugal by Barry Rigal
E/W Vul. Dealer South.
S QT96 S AJ3
H 98 H J3
D A7 D J5432
C Q8765 C J92
A dull 4H, you say, with the SA onside? All that is at stake is the overtrick.
On the lead of the S10 in the Closed Room, the Portuguese declarer made eleven tricks by guessing the DJ without raising a sweat. But Romanski got a less helpful H9 lead to his ten. Can you see the best line?
Well, obviously you could simply play a spade to the King at some point after drawing trumps and rely on your table presence to find the DJ - perhaps a bit more than 75%. But you do have a much better line once trumps turn out to be 2-2.
Play the HK at trick two, then ruff out the clubs and play a diamond to the Queen. When it holds, run the D10. Even if the defense have two diamonds to cash, West is endplayed. If the Queen loses to the Ace, you can still bet on East having either the DJ or the SA. I make this an 87.5% shot.
Editor: And if East has ducked the Ace from D Axx(x) a you can lean under the screen and congratulate him.
A board from Romania v Italy by Barry Rigal
When Romania played Italy, an excellent problem for declarer and the defenders arose on the board below:
Love All. Dealer West.
S 6 S T72
H QJ H T964
D KJ9852 D -
C AT82 C KQJ765
West North East South
Versace Draghicescu Lauria Valeanu
Pass Pass 2C Dbl
2D 2S Pass 3C
3S Pass 4C Pass
Pass 4S All Pass
2C showed either six clubs or five clubs with a major, 2D was a relay. Against 4S, 5C is a cheap spot (some were even allowed to make it, don't ask how), but the ambiguity of the opening may have persuaded Versace not to go any further.
Lauria found the excellent lead of a low club and Versace, after some thought, played the Ace and returned the D9 (presumably with suit preference overtones). Now the analysts spotted that declarer could perhaps endplay West with his inconvenient H QJ to give a ruff and discard or lead diamonds again.
But note two things. Versace might discard a heart on the trumps (you have to draw two rounds else East can ruff diamonds). But if the defense doesn't play hearts now, then even if Versace pitches one of his hearts, he can be endplayed with the other honor. Lauria did find the heart switch; alas he played the H10 and not a low one. Now declarer won the Ace, drew a round of trumps, ruffed a club and played the SJ in this ending:
S --- S T
H Q H 964
D KJ852 D ---
C T8 C KQJ7
If Versace pitches the HJ, he creates a finesse position in hearts, thanks to the unfortunate play of the ten. So Versace threw a diamond. But Draghicescu accurately played a heart to the eight, and Alfredo was done.