A Fancy Play that Actually Happened by Zia Mahmood


the guardian Thursday 11 February 2010

Zia Mahmood
Zia Mahmood

«These fancy plays that we read about in books – they don’t ever come up at the table, do they?» asked a friend the other day. Some forms of endgame well known to students of the literature do not in fact occur very often in combat. But look at this deal played at the Young Chelsea bridge club at the end of last year. Declarer was Heather Dhondy, a member of the team that won the gold medal in the Mind Sports Games in 2009. East-West vulnerable, dealer West.

Fancy PlayWest found what looked like the most awkward lead of the ace of hearts, but declarer was pleasantly surprised, when despite having opened 1NT, West did not have another heart to play. Instead, he attempted to cash the ace of diamonds which was ruffed by South. The contract was in no danger, but this was a pairs tournament and the objective was to score as many tricks as possible, so Dhondy embarked on the plan of cashing winners and ruffing losers. A club ruff, a spade to the ace, another club ruff, two high spades from dummy, a diamond ruff, another club ruff, and another diamond ruff brought about this three-card ending:Fancy Play 1

When the ten of clubs was ruffed with the king of hearts, East was trapped. If he under-ruffed, the South hand would be high. If he discarded a spade or a diamond, declarer could lead a winner in that suit from dummy; if East ruffed that, South would overruff and cash her club, otherwise she would discard that club and make the last trick with the master trump in her hand.