March 27 2019
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There was plenty of interest in the first deal of the match between Belgium and Singapore, the two leaders of the Hearts qualifying group at the time.
Heng led the 5 and it seemed initially that declarer would fall one trick short. Dehaye decided to take his A immediately. The Q was allowed to win and North won the J continuation. Back came the 8 and South held off his king to preserve defensive communications.
Declarer would lose too many tricks now if he set up the hearts. He unblocked the
K and tried the effect of exiting with his last spade. Perhaps something good would happen. Heng scored all his spades, North pitching two clubs. Do you see what South needs to do next? He must return the K to break up a heart-club squeeze on North!
On any other return, North will have no good discard on the fourth round of
It was not obvious to make this return, because East might have held the AQ and
be intending to finesse the queen for his ninth trick. Commentating on BBO, Marc
Smith and I were ready to give generous applause if South found the brilliant K
return. No, he played the 4. It was unlikely that South would lead away from the Q at this stage, since North’s count signal on the first round of hearts had exposed East’s K as a singleton (also declarer had not finessed the J himself). We therefore expected declarer to win with the A and play two more diamonds, squeezing North for the contract.
The 650 BBO kibitzers were deprived of this spectacle when declarer called for the
J and went down. It was a flat board, since declarer at the other table set up eight tricks and made no more when the Q did not fall in two rounds.
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