Zia Mahmood

Source: The Guardian

A K 9 5 3
A J 2
A 5
A 5 4
K Q 9 3
8 7
K Q J 8 7 2
8 7 6 4 2
K Q J 10 4 3
Q J 8 7 6 4
9 6 2
 10 9 3
Oeste Norte Este Sur
1 Double 1 1
Pass 4 5 Pass
Pass 5  The End

Every so often, something happens in bridge that at first appears unbelievable. Consider this diamond suit: North (dummy) diamond A5, South (declarer) ; diamond 962.

South, in a spade contract, lost no tricks in this suit and took three. Neither opponent discarded a diamond, and the defence was reasonable (but not successful). Believe it, or not? East was the great Swede Jan Wohlin. North-South vulnerable, dealer West: see image.

North might have doubled East’s sacrifice in 5 diamond; and collected 500, but tried for 650 in a vulnerable 5 spade;. This was an awful contract, but it could not be beaten on the lie of the cards. West led club K and South won dummy’s ace. He cashed heart A and ruffed a heart, played a spade to dummy’s ace, ruffed another heart, and led a diamond to the ace.

Wohlin saw what was coming. South would lead another diamond, which East could win and play a third round. But South would discard a club loser from dummy, allowing East to hold the trick. With only red cards in his hand, Wohlin would have to play one, and South would ruff and discard dummy’s remaining club loser. The only chance to defeat the contract was if West had diamond 9 and club QJ. Then West could win the second round of diamonds and cash two clubs. So Wohlin dropped diamond K under dummy’s ace, then followed with the three when declarer led the five from dummy.

Winning with the nine, South led diamond 6. His intention was to discard a club from dummy, leaving East with only red cards. The enforced ruff and discard would enable North’s club loser to disappear. But Wohlin, who had done his best to avoid being end-played, continued to do so by following with diamond 4 under the six. West won a club, and everyone put their cards back in the board with smiles on their faces.