Source: Herald-Journal – 7 Nov 1989

Dealer West All Vul

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

Opening lead: 9

Omar Sharif
Omar Sharif

At the moment I am in Italy filming a thriller. It brings to mind how similar are the tasks that face a declarer and a detective. Each must ferret out the clues that lead to the solution of the problem at hand. Which reminds me of this hand I played a couple of years ago at the annual tournament in Crans-sur-Sierre. My team was leading the competition and it came up half way through a match against our closest challengers. My partner’s passed-hand raise to four spades was a trifle aggressive, but then you know that Paul Chemla is never shy in the bidding.

West led a diamond, East won the ace and returned the queen. My problem was to avoid losing three club tricks. I drew trumps in two rounds and, since even a winning finesse in hearts would not provide solution, I eliminated hearts by ruffing the third round.

I now knew East had started with ace-queen of diamonds and queen of hearts. Had he held the ace of clubs as well, he would surely have opened the bidding- I was about to lead a low club to the jack when it dawned on me that there was something unusual about the defense.

If East held nothing in clubs, why didn’t he shift to that suit at trick two?

Ergo, he had to have a holding that made a club lead unattractive—the queen. So I led a low club from hand and ducked!!! I did not mind who won. Actually, East won the nine and returned the ten, but I had no problem in letting that run to the jack and thereby hold my club losses to two tricks.