Source: Chicago Tribune January 16, 1985
Pakistan’s Zia Mahmood is one of the world most imaginativeplayers. Here’s an example of his expertise from the recent World Team Olympiad.
The contract of 3NT was normal, as was the opening lead of a heart. North-South have 27 HCP in the combined hands, but they have only seven fast tricks, and declarer must develop two more for his contract.
Declarer correctly ducked the first heart trick and won the second in hand. He cashed the king of spades and certainly would have continued with the eight or ten in an attempt to duck the trick to East. But something happened on the first spade lead: Zia followed with the nine!
Declarer could not afford to duck a spade; East seemed to have started with a doubleton J-9 or Q.9. If that were the case and declarer passed a spade to East, West would control the fourth round of the suit. So declarer continued with a spade to the ace, and Zia Jettisoned his queen!
This sequence of plays promoted the jack of spades in West’s hand to an entry. West promptly drove out South’s last heart stopper, and now declarer had to guess the location of the queen of clubs for his contract. Since the early play strongly suggested that there was club length to his right, declarer naturally finessed East for the lady. Down one.
What would happen if Zia routinely plays a low spade to the second trick? He’d be forced to win the next spade, and his only safe return is a spade. Now declarer has a third spade trick set up while he still has a heart stopper, and he can work on diamonds for his ninth trick. Eventually he sets up a long diamond for the fulfilling trick because West is an entry short to cash his hearts.