Barry Rigal
Barry Rigal

What a difference a lead makes. In our third round match both tables bid to 3NT in almost exactly the same fashion. The difference was that in one table North doubled in the pass-out seat “I have six points and my partner opened the bidding; they can’t make game!”. Whether or not Walter the Walrus would approve, South was in the hot seat in both rooms, and had to find the best lead.

Board 6. Dealer East. E/W Vul.

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

Of course a low diamond beats the game outright — but who would lead a suit partner never raised? When our teammates Craig Gower and Alon Apteker sat E/W the opening lead was a low heart from South. Declarer ran this to his jack and unblocked clubs, then led a heart up and ended with ten tricks.

In the other room Glenn Milgrim started with the heart ace, to have a look at dummy, then he continued with the queen — a Merrimac Coup to dislodge the heart king from dummy. Declarer could have cashed out seven tricks by overtaking her clubs when the suit did not behave. But when she didn’t, she ended up -800; a cool 16 IMPs to the good guys.

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