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By: Bobby Wolff

Syndicated Column

"Life isn't meant to be easy. It's hard to take being on the top - or the bottom."
                                                                                         -Richard Nixon

Opening lead: K

This deal decided the 1999 Cavendish Teams trophy, which was won by Martel-Stansby and Weinstein-Levin. In the match between the leaders, both North-South pairs sacrificed in hearts. The eventual winners reached 6 doubled on the auction shown here. After the top diamond lead, Zia Mahmood erred by shifting to the K, thus collecting only 500.

This result should not have been a disaster, since, after all, 6 goes down when the diamond suit does not generate enough discards for declarer to pitch all his club losers. However, Zia's teammates sacrificed in 7 over 6, and that turned out to be very expensive insurance. The defense started with the two top diamonds, and when East let go a discouraging spade, West played a third dimaond. This allowed East to overrruff dummy, and so East-West collected four down for 1100 -- just a large enough swing to win the title.

Of course, the inference from East's discouragement in spades is that he can stand a third round of diamonds, but it is possible to pass along that message even more clearly. On this same deal at another table Fred Gitelman and Brad Moss were defending 6 doubled. On the second top diamond, Fred, as East, threw the A away -- nice protection for partner to ensure he would play a third diamond!

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