Mollo is one of England’s top players with numerous titles and championships to his credit. Witness his unusual play in today’s slam contract in which he found the safest as well as the only winning line.
| A Q
A Q 9
A 8 7 6 4
A K J
J 6 5 4 2
K J 10
10 9 8 7
| 6 5 2
K 10 8
Q 6 5 4 3 2
| K J 10 9 8 7 4
9 5 3 2
Two clubs was an all purpose forcing bid, two diamonds a negative response and the two no-trump rebid showed a balanced high-card hand of 23-24 points. South introduced the spade suit and North’s four heart bid accepted spades and showed a slam going hand (the key bid), five spades invited slam and North accepted.
West led the 10 and Mollo studied his alternatives. He described his thoughts:
If either the club or heart finesse worked, or if the diamonds were split 2-2, there was no problem. But having had a bad run for fifty years, my bones told me everything would be wrong.
And right he was; no normal line of play would land the slam.
How did Mollo do it?
He played dummy’s J and “as expected”, East covered with the queen. Mollo discarded a diamond!
Declarer won East’s trump return in dummy and played the two high clubs, discarding tow more diamonds. The diamond ace was played and a low diamond ruffed. Another trump to dummy allowed another diamond ruff, establishing the suit. Declarer then drew the last trump and crossed to the heart ace. The heart finesse was unnecessary since Mollo could discard his last heart on one of dummy’s established diamonds.
An unusuall solution. Only an «unlucky player of fifty years» could have met the challenge.