Toledo Blade – 14 Mar 2006
Both vulnerable, West deals
Opening lead: K
Take a vote among the world’s experts for their choice of No. 1 in the world, and you will find Norway’s Geir Helgemo heading many lists. Here is a sample of his brilliance.
Would North-South have reached six diamonds under their own steam? Certainly, East-West’s pre-emptive tactics placed tremendous pressure on Helgemo, and his jump to the small slam was a reasonable shot.
West led the king of hearts, ruffed in the closed hand. It seemed that the only way for declarer to get home was to set up a spade in hand to discard a club from dummy and then ruff his losing club on the table. That would seem to need a 3-3 spade break and, in light of the pre-emptive auction, that was unlikely.
Still, Helgemo made the slam in a way that is not easy to find looking at all the cards.
Declarer ruffed the opening lead, drew a round of trumps and led the deuce of spades, finessing the seven when West followed low! In an attempt to fool declarer, East won with the jack and returned the five of spades, but South was having none of it. Helgemo ran it to the nine, which won.
A spade to the king and a club discard on the ace, and declarer lost only a spade trick. Note that Declarer was going to land the slam regardless of what East did after winning the first spade. Declarer would get to dummy with a trump to run the nine of spades, pinning West’s eight, and another spade finesse if necessary would provide a parking place for the club loser.