Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 10 Jun 1988

Both vulnerable. West deals.

Opening lead: ?

Listen to the bidding. If it tells you that the opponents have just about enough tricks to make their contract, avoid making an opening lead that might present them with a trick. North’s takeout double followed by a jump in a new suit at the three-level showed a hand that expected to take almost nine tricks on its own. While it was not 100 percent forcing, South decided to convert to three no trump on the strength of his stopper in opener’s suit.

Sitting West was one of the most popular lecturers on Royal Viking Line bridge cruises, internationalist Ron Von der Porten. He feared, correctly, that a low diamond lead would present declarer with his game-going trick, so he chose to look elsewhere for his opening salvo.

He decided that the card least likely to cost a trick was the king of spades! Declarer won the ace and ran six hearts, discarding three spades and a club from hand. East echoed in clubs and also discarded a spade and a diamond while West let go three diamonds. South could still have made the contract by leading a spade, but, convinced that West had started with K-Q-10, that didn’t even cross his mind.

Instead, he led a diamond to the queen. Von der Porten took his king and continued his fine defense by exiting with the king of clubs. That assured the defenders of five tricks—one in each black suit and three diamonds when East was able to push a diamond through declarer’s J-9.

While we admire West’s handi-work, let’s not forget to par East on the back for his thoughfulness in signalling in clubs to show possession of a high card.