Opening lead: jack of clubs
If you’re a good bridge player and are lucky besides, the combination might make you well-nigh invincible.
For an example of what these two ingredients, properly mixed, can produce, we present this deal from the 1956 Masters Pair championship, won by Alvin Roth and Tobias Stone. Stone wound up in six spades after the somewhat optimistic sequence of bids shown.
The contract seems impossible to make, since declarer has a diamond loser and a long string of clubs to take care of. True, declarer’s last club can be established by ruffing three clubs in dummy, but since one ruff would be with dummy’s queen, this would establish a trump trick for the defense.
Despite these hazards, Stone made the slam by timing his plays perfectly and finding a way to avoid the diamond loser. He trumped the club lead in dummy and cashed the ace of hearts. He then ruffed a heart, ruffed a club and cashed the spade queen before ruffing another heart.
After playing the A-K of trumps, his remaining cards were the A-9 of diamonds and A-9-8 of clubs, while East had the K-J-2 of diamonds and K-Q of clubs. Stone then led the A-8 of clubs, forcing East to win and return a diamond to dummy’s queen, and the slam was home.
Note that if East had been farsighted enough to drop his K-Q on the early club plays, he would have averted the endplay and defeated the contract. That, plus the favourable distribution of the opposing cards, was where the luck element came in, but it still took a substantial degree of skill to take advantage of the situation.
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