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By: Eric Kokish and Beverly Kraft

Originally Published in The Toronto Star, January 6, 2000

One of the least heralded arts in bridge is the ability to give an opponent just enough rope to hang himself. On today’s deal an expert declarer fell prey to a tender trap baited by both is opponents on the same glorious trick, one that will assume a place of honour in the National Big Tricks Hall of Fame.

Opening lead: 10

This bizarre auction merits an explanation. In the throes of a poor session South decided to trade on the favourable vulnerability to open a light, lead-directing, space-consuming 1 (playing five-card majors, to boot). North buried his hearts for the moment in an attempt to make it as easy as possible to unearth a four-four minor-suit fit, and started with an eccentric 2. When South introduced his emaciated diamonds as a least-of-evils choice North giggled and raised gently to 7. South, to his credit, did not lose his lunch. Yet.

Trump leads against grand slams are no longer virtually automatic but when other leads seem more dangerous, a trump will do. As Sheri Winestock did not expect to over-ruff a club or a heart she thought she could afford to lead the 10 rather than the traditional lowest card.

Declarer called for the A and, smooth as silk, Dianna Gordon dropped the jack. Declarer, who had intended to play two top trumps, then start the hearts (making with even breaks in the red suits or when the same opponent held four hearts and three trumps), decided to treat the J as a true card. He played three rounds of hearts immediately, ruffing the last. When they divided evenly, he ran the 7, preparing to claim when it held. East showed him the nine, putting an end to his otherwise excellent adventure. Sheri and Dianna are playing for Canada in the Venice Cup (Women’s World Team Championship) in Bermuda January 8-21.

As lovely as the East-West swindle may have been, declarer should not have fallen for it. West would lead low and not the 10 from 10962 of trumps against any contract, let alone a grand slam.

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