Source: Asia Pacific Bridge Federation Champioships 2015 bulletins

Brian Senior
Brian Senior

The flamboyant Zia Mahmood is one of the most difficult of modern players to play against, due in no small part to his imaginative card play. On this deal from the 2013 European Open Pairs he seemed doomed to defeat in his heart game but managed to find a way to win his impossible contract.

Dealer West, None Vul

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

East, looking at two aces and a singleton in his partner’s suit, was well worth his penalty double. West led the A and Zia could see what was coming next. His only chance was to fool the defenders so he dropped the K as though it was a singleton.

It wasn’t really plausible to think that East would have three-card spade support on this auction, but West was taken in and switched to the 5.

Zia put up the K, losing to the ace, and back came a second diamond. He won the Q, ruffed a diamond in the dummy, and took two spade pitches on the A and K. Now all he had to do was to play the trumps for only one loser. He was pretty certain that West had a singleton heart, but was it the A or the Q?

Zia’s solution was to try a second psychological play, leading the J off the table instead of the normal low card. Who would not cover with the Q if holding queen-ten doubleton? When East followed with the 10 he was therefore assumed not to hold the Q and Zia, who would have ducked had the queen been played, went up with the K and had his contract.

East/West were left to shake their heads and look unhappily at each other.