What Card would Zia play next? by Zia Mahmood

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In the three months leading up to the 1999 Orbis World Bridge Championships, Orbis sponsored an innovative free Internet bridge contest.

Zia Mahmood
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In the three months leading up to the 1999 Orbis World Bridge Championships, Orbis sponsored an innovative free Internet bridge contest. A first in the world of bridge, the contest was designed in collaboration with bridge star, Zia Mahmood, to appeal to a broad range of players. For 13 weeks beginning 1 September 1999, Zia presented a different Orbis Hand of the Week and contestants were invited to submit one answer per week to a question such as “what card would Zia play next?” The Competition attracted over 35,000 entries from participants in over 100 countries, including Mongolia and the Marshall Islands.

Zia’s Question and Solution for Week 1

You and I both know that our rightful role in bridge is to be declarer. Yet somehow, when playing a long match, we always seem to spend most of our time defending. At least, unlike when playing matchpoints, you know what your goal is when playing teams scoring – simply to beat the contract.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? See if you can achieve this in the following hand.- ZIA

North deals at game all. Zia, West, has this unexciting collection:

Q102  73  643  KQ1095

The bidding is as follows:aaxx

South’s 1NT response was a forcing bid. North’s 2 bid might be based on only a 3-card suit. South’s 2NT shows about 11-12 points in a balanced hand without three spades. Zia is happy for two reasons – the opponents have stayed out of game for once, and Zia does not have a problem with his opening lead.

Zia selects the K and then sees that dummy’s hand is as shown:


Trick 1: K West – 4 North – 2 East – 3 South

Zia’s partner knows that Zia’s lead of K means he should play the jack if he has it, or show count otherwise. Zia’s partner would have dropped the J if he had it, or overtaken with the A if he held that card, so Zia can assume South’s club holding to be AJ3.

What card would Zia play next?

Once you have voted, you can find Zia’s response below.

The full deal is as shown.


Zia’s answer is 2.

The shift to 2 is not guaranteed to beat the contract, but it represents by far the best chance. If South has A, then he will have an easy route to at least the required eight tricks since the spades will provide him with five. Zia assumes, then, that his partner has A. On the bidding, he will also have either A or K.

What will declarer do if Zia shifts to 2? He might put in the jack, or even the eight – but he might also go up with K, which would be correct any time Zia had A and East Q. If he does misguess, and plays K, Zia’s partner will win the trick with A. Zia’s partner will then return a club through declarer’s AJ. If declarer plays J, Zia can win with the queen and clear the club suit. Zia’s partner will (eventually) gain the lead in one of the red suits. Zia’s carefully created entry of Q will give him the lead. Zia can then run the clubs, and ends up defeating the contract by two tricks.

Final Result: NS make 6 tricks and -200.

‘Nice play!’

Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish

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