Source: Around the World in 80 Hands By Zia Mahmood, David Burn

Zia Mahmood
Zia Mahmood

I have visited Biarritz, the elegant French resort, several times —usually for a bridge tournament in July. The sumptuous Hotel du Palais, a gift from Napoleon to his Josephine, and the manicured golf courses of the region are in themselves enough to entice a visitor back. Add to that the fine restaurants and bridge among friends in a vast room overlooking the ocean, and you can picture for yourself why I return year after year.

Paul Chemla
Paul Chemla

One July there was an added attraction. I was due to play with Paul Chemla, the explosive French superstar. Paul is one of the most talented bridge players in the world (an assessment with which he would agree, apart from the words ‘one of¨’). His beaming smile and infectious chuckle prevent anyone from taking exception to his gas-conade. And on this occasion, it was fully justified by his play, which was excellent throughout the tournament.

See if you can find his defense as East on this deal:aa

West, your partner, leads the K. South wins with dummy’s ace, plays a club to his ace, ruffs a club in dummy and leads a low spade. What do you discard? Paul Chemla discarded… a trump! South and I both followed suit, and Paul switched to a heart. This was the only defense to beat 6, since the full hand was:aaIf Chemla had not ruffed the second spade, I would have been on lead, unable to attack hearts! Whatever I did, declarer would ruff his last club loser in dummy and run his trumps, keeping the 3 and the A4 in dummy, the  Q5 and a diamond in hand. Down to the K and the  KJ when the last trump was cashed, I would have been hopelessly squeezed.

«Bien joue.»

«Pas du tour, said Paul. «I merely discarded my lowest card. I was fortunate that it happened to be a trump!