You are South holding:

S A J 7 5 4 H J 10 5 D 10 5 4 C 7 5

South dealer, game all


(1) Strong
(2) 8-11 points, balanced
(3) Relay
(4) 2-2-4-5 shape

Your lead?

Scroll down to see what would have been the winning lead 

This was board 58 of Netherlands vs Norway for the 1993 Bermuda Bowl final. Your task is somewhat easier because the opponents's bidding has revealed a lot about their hands.

Why did they avoid 3NT? They seem to have no stopper in some suit. Which one? Most probably in a major, because West has announced doubletons in both majors. Which major to lead? A spade, because you hold more cards there and by leading the ace you keep the lead, so you can switch at trick two if needs be.

Applying this reasoning, Muller led the ace of spades. He was right, because the full deal was:

S K 10 8 3
H 8 7 4 3
D K 9 2
C 4 2
S Q 2
H Q 9
D Q J 7 3
C Q J 9 6 3
S 9 6
H A K 6 2
D A 8 6
C A K 10 8
S A J 7 5 4
H J 10 5
D 10 5 4
C 7 5

N-S swiftly cashed two spade tricks, but the game did not go down! Declarer won the heart return, drew trumps and ran the queen of diamonds. But (horror!) North did not cover, as he should, so declarer cashed the ace of diamonds, ran trumps and squeezed North between diamonds and hearts, so he made the last trick with the lowly 6 of hearts!

At the other table, Westra-Leufkens bid briskly to 3NT but Helgemo (North) did find the spade lead, so the game went one down. It was 12 IMPs for Norway, despite Muller's fine lead. But, as all readers know, in the end it was the Dutch team that won the trophy.

Special thanks to Yvan Calame for the HTML conversion!

Nikos Sarantakos,
Luxembourg, June 1998

Return to Main Bridge Page

Return to Real-Life Problems page

This page has been visited times.