Source: IBPA Bulletins 2001

Truscott submits this deal from the Toronto ACBL Nationals, reported in the NY Times, 22nd July 2001, featuring Kyle Larsen, West, for our Defence of the Year Award:

Dealer West, All Vul

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

Opening lead: K

A remarkable turnabout in the final set of deals gave the Grand National Team title here last night Saturday to a foursome from Southern California.

Playing at the American Contract Bridge League’s Summer Nationals, victory went to Jill Meyers, who was the world’s top-ranked woman player two years ago, Ed Davis, Mitch Dunitz and Iftikhar Baqai. They trailed by 25 IMPs into the last quarter, but several slam swings helped them surge to an 8-IMP win.

The losers, who between them have won bunches of world and national titles, were a team from Northern California: Rose Meltzer, Peter Weichsel, Chip Martel, Lew Stansby, Hugh Ross and Kyle Larsen.

Both captains bid the South cards imaginatively on the diagramed deal from the Grand National, reaching three no-trump with the long spade suit undisclosed. This contract had a good chance, while four spades and four hearts would have been hopeless.

Meltzer was the declarer after the diagramed auction, and succeeded. She claimed nine tricks when West led diamonds and continued the suit. In the replay, Meyers had slightly different bidding.

West remained silent after her reopening double, and she leaped to three no-trump after a one-heart response.

In this case Larsen, West, produced a brilliant defense. After leading one top diamond, he read the position correctly. To justify the three no-trump bid, South had to have long, solid spades together with the missing honors in the minor suits.

West continued by cashing the two top heart honors, squeezing South in a most unusual way. If South had thrown a minor-suit card, West would have been able to lead the discarded suit effectively. Meyers parted with one of her spade winners, and the contract was still in the balance.

A spade shift would have been fatal, for the spade eight would have been an entry to the hearts. But Larsen reverted to diamonds, giving South a trick in that suit but defeating the game. Meyers had to lose a club trick at the finish for down one. Meltzer and her team-mates gained 12 imps in what proved to be a losing cause.

Truscott adds: I did not have space in the NYT to note another point: The heart cash is necessary if South has six spades and two hearts to prevent West being stripped and endplayed.