Michel Lebel
Michel Lebel

1995 Bermuda Bowl

It is difficult to say a hand is the best ever played. What I can say is that Michel Lebel said it was the best hand HE had ever played. When such an experienced player says this, it means something. Let’s have a look at the board:

Dealer South. Both Vul

K Q 6 5 4
K 10 6 4
10
8 4 3
3 2
A 7 5
A 9 7 6 5
Q J 9
A J 10 9 7
Q J 2
K 8 2
K 10
8
9 8 3
Q J 4 3
A 7 6 5 2
West North East South
Pass
1 Pass 1NT
Pass Pass Dbl 2
3NT Pass Pass Pass

So Lebel, West, was declarer in 3 NT. A club was led and the king was allowed to hold. Lebel played the DK and let the 8 ride. A third round went to the A, and a fourth round of diamonds was played, North having discarded a heart and two spades.

In hand with the Q, South exited with a small club. West had six tricks in the bag when he played his last diamond:

K Q 6
K 10 6

8
3 2
A 7 5
5
J
A J 10 9
Q J 2

8
9 8 3

A 7 6

On the 5 North discarded a spade, as did East, and South has to discard a heart. Now came a brilliant J:

K Q
K 10 6

8
3 2
A 7 5

J
A J 10
Q J 2

8
9 8

A 7 6

South took the A and another high club, but in the final position:

K Q
K 10

3
A 7 5

A J
Q J

8
9 8

6

SOUTH HAS THE CHOICE FROM AMONG THREE EQUALLY BAD ACTIONS!

Jean Paul Meyer
Jean Paul Meyer

A club squeezes his partner.

A spade allows East to throw North in hand to play a heart away from his king.

A heart is ducked and declarer makes two heart tricks.

Yes, educated readers would have found a pedestrian way of winning the contract by taking the first trick in hand and playing a spade, which has to be ducked by North, and then attacking diamonds. But Lebel’s play is so much nicer.