The French Online Open, in which 32 teams competed over a marathon two weeks — seven days round robin and seven days playoffs — was won by the only English entry, Team Sushi, made up entirely of London players, and captained by Nick Sandqvist.
I was watching a set in one of the semifinals when this hand cropped up, featuring Nick in his favourite contract of 3NT.
How would you view the hand when West leads the ◆5 to East’s Jack? An intermediate player would probably just assume he has to guess Clubs and get on with it. More advanced players start to get into the psychology of the game and how things look to the other side. He would not want West on lead because West knows the Diamond suit is going nowhere and is very likely to find the killing Heart switch. East, on the other hand, may well just return partner’s suit. This would suggest Declarer finessing Clubs into East’s hand.
An expert would realise that letting either defender signal — by throwing an encouraging Heart, say — could spell disaster, so he’d probably prefer to play the first Club straight to dummy’s Jack. That seems to cover all the alternatives. But none of them was good enough for Nick. He won the opening lead, not with the Queen of Diamonds, but with the Ace (!). Then he entered dummy with a Spade and played a Club to the ten in hand. It lost, but as West ‘knew’ that his partner had the Queen, another Diamond hit the screen as fast as his mouse would allow. It was a great and imaginative play which, when studied, works on virtually every layout.
Congrats, Team Sushi.
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