Broken Hearts by Barry Rigal

Is it just my imagination or have trumps been splitting exceptionally badly this tournament? Certainly Thursday was not a good day for trump suits. On boards 1, 2 and 3 of Round 11 there were voids in the trump suit, and the very last board of the day saw another foul break. But this time declarer had a chance - if he was warned.

Love All. Dealer West.

                           S AKT5
                           H 87632
                           D KQ5
                           C 7
                  S 93             S J862
                  H KQT5           H 4
                  D AT8            D 6432
                  C KQJ8           C T643
                           S Q74
                           H AJ9
                           D J97
                           C A92

          West      North         East      South
         Berger  Kapayannidis   Strafner   Liarakos

          1NT(1)     2C           Pass       3C
          Dbl        3D           Pass       4H
          Dbl       Pass          Pass      Pass

(1) 13-15 HCP with clubs or just 13-17 HCP.

2C showed majors and Liarakos issued a general invitation based on club values with 3C, then drove to game when his partner temporized with 3D to show a fair hand. Berger doubled and led the CK. In perhaps his only inaccuracy of the set.
Liarakos played for a more favorable trump split by leading a low heart to the nine. Down one, but a flat board against 1NT by West in the Closed Room.

Let us have another look at the hand, based on the warning given to us by West. Win the CA and ruff a club, then play the DK and DQ, which West does best to duck.  Play SA and a spade to the Queen, ruff a club and play a third diamond. This will be the position:

                            S KT
                            H 876
                            D 5
                            C -
                   S -             S J8
                   H KQT5          H 4
                   D A             D 64
                   C J             C T
                            S 7
                            H AJ9
                            D J
                            C 9

West is on lead with the DA, and can play the HK, ducked by South. Now, he must exit with a club. Declarer ruffs in dummy and leads the SK. West ruffs and is endplayed in trumps.
Is there no defense to 4H?  Not so. If West could see through the back of the cards, he can lead the HK at trick one, which South ducks. Now the defense continue with a second heart and South wins, plays the CA, ruffs a club and leads the DK and DQ which West ducks.
Play the SA and a spade to the Queen for a third club ruff, but when declarer plays a third diamond, West wins and plays the third round of trumps and declarer is a trick short. It seems as if all lines do not work - but maybe you
can find one?

Watch the Irish! by Barry Rigal

You can always rely on the Irish to provide copy. Be it good, bad or ugly, it is generally spectacular. Hugh McGann was given his chance and he took it with both hands:

Game All. Dealer West.

                         S J83
                         H T95
                         D AQT86
                         C Q9
               S T952              S Q64
               H KQJ876            H 4
               D -                 D 7542
               C AJ7               C T8543
                         S AK7
                         H A32
                         D KJ93
                         C K62

               West     North     East     South
            Fallenius   Hanlon  Nilsland   McGann
                1H       Pass     Pass      Dbl
                2H        3D      Pass      3NT
              Pass       Pass     Pass

Fallenius led the HK and continued the suit. McGann won the third round to run one top spade trick and five diamond tricks. Fallenius pitched the S10 to show club cards, then the C7, CJ, S2 and H6. Now Hugh knew West to be 6-0 in the red suits and he had to distinguish between S QTxx and S T9xx.
Restricted choice arguments might point to the former, and the discard of the S10 to the latter, but McGann reasoned as follows: "A good defender would bare his spade honor prematurely, to lead me the wrong way. That is how Fallenius would want me to think he has defended - he knows I respect him.  So, he actually does not have that holding - I will play him for S T9xx." Contract made - and perhaps an entry in the Bulletin.

 

A Brilliant Lead by Barry Rigal

Suren Christiansen of Denmark found a brilliant lead, put yourself in his seat (the North one) if you want to match his choice.

N/S Vul. Dealer West.

                           S QJT2
                           H AKJ
                           D T4
                           C 8652
                 S 7654            S AK3
                 H 8               H 7532
                 D AKJ852          D Q9
                 C K4              C AQ73
                           S 98
                           H QT964
                           D 763
                           C JT9

             West       North      East    South
            Chemla  Christiansen  Perron  Blakset
              1D        Pass        1H     Pass
              1S        Pass        2C     Pass
              2D        Pass        2S     Pass
              3D        Pass        4D     Pass
              4H        Pass        4NT(1) Pass
              5D        Pass        6D     Pass
             Pass       Pass
             (1) RKC

Suren decided Chemla would be 4-1-6-2 and he could see the danger of the black suit squeeze if he rectified the count by leading a top heart (as happened at all tables that I saw).
A spade lead is not good enough; declarer can ruff a spade in dummy easily enough. But Suren led a trump!  Although Chemla could have ducked a heart and played for the unlikely squeeze, it was much better odds to play for the 3-3 spade split. He simply drew trumps, pitched his heart loser on the clubs and went one down.
Note that to beat the slam if Chemla runs five trumps, Suren has to pitch all of his top hearts; now Chemla might read the position and duck a heart to get the squeeze home.