Cut by a jewel of a play

August 07, 1966

This is to report a diamond swindle in Amsterdam, which happens to be one of the diamond-cutting centers of the world. What got cut in this case, however, was not a jewel but the defenders on a deal played in the World Pair Olympiad in Amsterdam. Much to the pleasure of the home-town kibitzers, the Dutch pair of Bobby Slavenburg and Hans Kreyns eventually won the title, but a Frenchman's wily tactics on the hand below entertained the Amsterdam spectators almost as much as the Dutch victory.

Both Jonathan Cansino of Britain and A Magnis of France arrived at six-heart contracts, Cansino after opening with a weak no trump and Magnis after one club, At each table North's cue bid in spades produced the heart bid that had been hoped for. The four-no-trump re-bid was Blackwood, and after South showed one ace North bid the slam.

Cansino elected to let the opening diamond lead run to his queen. East took the king of diamonds, returned a diamond for West to ruff, and a spade trick was duly collected for a two-trick set. The Dutch onlookers reflected that Cansino had not sufficiently considered West's choice of lead. Even though South's opening no trump is known to be weak, West would hardly dare to make a vulnerable overcall without a good suit and some other assets—in this case, freak distribution. With a good spade suit, it is hardly likely that West would lead away from the king of diamonds. Cansino's best chance, therefore, would have been to go up with the diamond ace, play two rounds of trumps, ending in dummy, and finesse the queen of clubs. When the finesse wins, a spade can be discarded on the club ace and the only loser is a diamond.

The swindle took place when Magnis, at the other table, received the opening lead of the spade king and a shift to a trump. The Frenchman won the trump trick in his hand, then led the 8 of diamonds to dummy's ace. Now he summoned up the gall to lead a diamond back toward his hand.

East thought exactly what Magnis hoped he would, that declarer had begun with a singleton diamond. In this case it would be fatal to go up with the king and drop partner's queen. Declarer would then be able to enter dummy with a club ruff and lead the 10 of diamonds for a ruffing finesse against East's jack. If East covered, declarer could ruff another club in dummy, cash the diamond 9 and ruff the last diamond with his last trump, leaving the dummy with nothing but good trumps. So East ducked, South produced the queen of diamonds and West did not have another trump with which to ruff declarer's winner.

The danger of the ruff by West had to be risked. The way the diamond suit was divided, when East ducked, declarer needed all three of his remaining trumps to take care of dummy's three diamonds. Magnis ruffed a spade in dummy, ruffed a diamond, led the ace of clubs, ruffed a club, ruffed another diamond, trumped the last club and the last diamond and then ruffed a third round of spades with the king of hearts. Dummy's last card was the ace of hearts, which smothered East's jack, and the slam was made.

East-West vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

[Jack of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[5 of Clubs]

WEST

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[6 of Hearts]
[2 of Diamonds]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

EAST

[10 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[Jack of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[King of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

EAST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH

1 N.T.
4 [Heart]
5 [Diamond]
PASS

WEST

2 [Spade]
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

3 [Spade]
4 N.T.
6 [Heart]

Opening lead: 2 of diamonds

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)