Source: San Diego NABC Bulletin When it comes to watching Zia Mahmood play bridge, you can be certain of one thing: you’re going to have fun. On the first day of the Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs, Zia and Zach Grossack, one of ACBL’s brightest young players, sat down at table C5 North-South for a trip into the wonderland of not exactly remembering all their bidding agreements. It wasn’t all bad, of course. Sometimes it’s possible to land on your feet even when you forget something or interpret a bid the wrong way. This deal is a case in point: (1) Intended to show spades (2) An attempt to transfer to spades (3) Long suit finally revealed.
Zia & Zach Grossack
Zia & Zach Grossack, San Diego 2017
West led the Heart SuitJ and Zia played the ace from dummy. At trick two, he called for the Club SuitJ. East went up with the Club SuitA, ruffed by Zia. A spade to the king was followed by the Club SuitK, on which East played the Heart Suit5. East quickly realized he actually did have a club and, after Zia told him to put the heart back in his hand, East followed suit. Zia discarded a heart on the Club SuitK and played a low club from dummy and ruffed with the Spade Suit10. West overruffed with the Spade SuitJ, but it wasn’t until play was concluded that Zia pointed out the established revoke. “I was looking at five clubs in dummy and none in my hand,” Zia said, “and both opponents were showing out of the suit!” Because East had won the trick on which he revoked and the defenders took a subsequent trick, North-South were awarded two tricks and Zia was able to chalk up the vulnerable slam for 52 matchpoints – a cold top. The two Zs got their act together on defense in what turned out to be their best round – against two expert players. This was the first board of the set: Grossack led the Heart SuitJ, taken by West with the king. Declarer played a club to dummy’s ace and called for a low spade. Zia won the Spade SuitK, cashed the Diamond SuitK, getting a low (encouraging) signal from Grossack. Zia then cashed his Club SuitK and played a low diamond to his partner’s queen. A club came back, but declarer could ruff with dummy’s 8, Zia discarding the Diamond Suit10 instead of overruffing with the trump ace. West lost two diamonds, a club, a heart and a spade for minus 500. That was good for 48.5 matchpoints to Zia and Zach. On the next board, the pressure was first on Grossack, then on Zia, and they both came through. The best the defenders can do against 6NT by East is to cash the Club SuitA. Otherwise, declarer has 13 easy tricks. The only lead to defeat 6Spade Suitby West is a club, and Zach found it. Declarer played low from dummy and Zia thought for a bit before playing the queen and following with a low club, giving his partner a ruff for the setting trick. Plus 50 was not a spectacular board – there were likely many majorsuit slams played by West – but it did give the two Zs 36.5 matchpoints. Zia blamed himself for the poor result on this deal: East started with the Diamond SuitK, on which West played the 10. East switched to his singleton spade at trick two. West took the Spade SuitA and gave his partner a ruff. A diamond back to West’s ace allowed him to play a second round of spades for a second ruff. The result was two down and minus 200 for just 1 matchpoint. Zia said he should have just bid 4Spade Suit, which cannot be defeated. The two ended up with a score of 706.08 on an average of 767 (52.22%). It was not what they hoped for, but they were optimistic that the second qualifying session would produce better results. Zia said he asked Zach to play with him after playing against Zach and his brother, Adam. “He’s a fine player,” said Zia. Asked for his take on his first session with one of the most colorful bridge players in the world, Zach could say only: “He’s awesome!”