Shangai hands (10) - Down five

You won't see often a reigning world champion going down five on a low-level contract, but this is the sort that befell to Claudio Nunes on board 3 of the match between Italy and Argentina.


Brd 3    Q82
South    K6
EW       T842
A4               KJT3
QT9432           AJ8
75               J96
743              JT9
Palazzo          Lambardi

 W   N   E   S
 P   1NT P   P
 2H  X   P   2S
 P   P   P       
The cards lie really bad for North-South in the majors here. Palazzo led a diamond and Nunes won. If he now cashes his minor tricks he will escape for down one but he did not know the distribution so he obviously tried to make it and he attempted to draw trumps despite his precarious holding. Spade ducked to East's 10, diamond back, yet another spade won perforce by West's ace. If now Palazzo plays a club... the 2S contract makes! But obviously Lambardi played a low heart, Nunes put the king and the roof fell in: Lambardi won, drew trumps and played a heart to partner, so the defence took the rest of the tricks for down five. Nunes thought that the ace of hearts was with West, but if he played low would East put the jack?
Anyway, all this was cheap enough, a mere 5 imps loss for the Italians (NS played 3D-1 at the other table). In other matches the same board was not so cheap. For instance, the Poles gained eleven on this board, when they managed to make 3NT by North. The South African East led a low heart (partner had bid the suit) and declarer won and ran home when both minors behaved. A low spade lead can give down six. Call me a result merchant, but an opening lead that makes six tricks of difference, and I mean six tricks less, cannot be that good.

Nikos Sarantakos

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2007 Nikos Sarantakos