26th BERMUDA BOWL Stockholm 1983 (Source: www.ecatsbridge.com)

This hand was played in an invitational tournament in India in January 1983, North-South,-using a strong club system, found their way to the excellent slam very efficiently. And the slam was due to make against routine defense, even though the club finesse was due to fail.

Dealer: North, Vul: Both

 A K Q 4
 A K Q 10 4
 Q 4 2
 J 3
 8 7 5
K 7 6 3
K 8 7 5
 8 7 6
 9 6 3 2
 A 9 8 5 4
 10 9 5 2
 Q J 2
 A J 10 6 3
West North  East South
 1 Pass  2
Pass  2 Pass  2
Pass  3 Pass 4
Pass 4NT Pass 5
Pass 6 All Pass

If West had led a major suit, South would have drawn trumps, discarded his diamonds on dummy’s hearts and eventually have taken a losing club finesse. But a small diamond doesn’t work either. East would win the ace and probably return a club. South would rise with the ace, cash the J, ruff out the K and draw trumps. All the clubs in the closed hand would be discarded on the hearts, and the J would take the 12th trick.

But West, Zia.Mahmud «in a flash» put the K on the table — and suddenly the slam was unmakable. After winning the opening lead, Zia led a second diamond, forcing dummy to ruff. Declarer’s only remaining option was the club finesse, and of course that was doomed to failure.

Why did Zia lead the king instead of the more usual small diamond?

The bidding had indicated that dummy would have a singleton diamond, and it was unlikely that it would be the ace. So Zia wanted to protect against the actual position. –

Zia’s opening lead has to be one of the best of 1983.