K 8 7 6 3
K 10 6
9 6 4
A Q 2
A J 9 5
K J 10 5
8 4 2
A K 10 7 3
7 3 2
10 9 4
Q 7 3
Q 8 6 5
A Q 8
Most bridge players are taught early that it is usually more effective to lead toward a tenace than away from one. It takes an expert to understand when to violate this rule.
Today we find Gee, West, playing 2NT after an auction that, for once, is unexceptionable in every way. The 1NT opener is normal, the 2NT invitation is normal, Gee’s refusal is normal…let’s skip ahead to the play, shall we?
North leads S6 and Gee puts up the jack from dummy, which holds. If diamonds break 3-3 there will always be time to set up eight tricks. But if they don’t declarer will need three tricks in clubs, barring a miracle in the majors.
Fortunately the spade lead gives him an extra entry to dummy. Now he can afford to take the club finesse, repeat it if it wins, and test the diamonds. On the actual layout the diamonds don’t break but the clubs sit ideally, and declarer gets home with three clubs, two diamonds, a heart and two spades for an easy eight tricks.
Or so the average player might reason. Not Gee: he crosses up the defense with a low diamond off the board at trick 2! South recovers enough composure to duck, and North wins the DJ and plays back D9, killing dummy’s last entry.
Gee now tests the diamonds, which of course don’t split — North sluffs C6 — and takes a club finesse. It holds, but one finesse is not enough. The hand devolves into what one spec called a series of cascading endplays. The H9 is taken by South’s HQ. Gee ducks the spade return and wins the spade continuation. But now one endplay begets another: Gee leads the CJ, losing to the CQ. A heart is returned through Gee’s AJ, and North wins the HK and cashes his spades. Gee does manage to win his HA at the end for down 2.
Another spec remarked that it was impossible to go down more than 2. This is unfair. There is a double-dummy line for down 3, and two declarers actually found it at the table.