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The Magic of Zia

Dlr:
North
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ K 7
6 3 2
K 10 4 2
♣ 8 7 5 2
South
♠ A 8 4 2
A 10 5 4
♣ A K 9 6 4
West North East South
Pass Pass 1♣
1 2♣ 3 5♣
All Pass

This deal from the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams illustrates the well-worn bromide that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” That’s especially true when Zia Mahmood is playing a contract. Zia was South.

West started with the A, not best for the defense, but the contract still seemed doomed. After all, Zia could discard one loser on the K, but he still had to lose a trump trick and two hearts.

At least it seemed that way.

Zia sized up the situation quickly and accurately, however. He ruffed the A, cashed the top two trumps, uncovering the bad split. He then led to the ♠K, discarded a heart from hand on the K and ruffed another diamond. The ♠A, a spade ruff and another diamond ruff left this ending:

Dlr:
West
Vul:
Both
North
♠ —
6 3 2
♣ 8
West
♠ —
K J 9
♣ Q
East
♠ Q
Q 8 7
♣ —
South
♠ 8
A 10 5
♣ —

Zia played the ♠8 and the magic prevailed. There was no way to prevent the last trump in dummy from scoring a trick. If West ruffed in, Zia could discard a heart from dummy. He would lose only one heart from that point. As it was, the ♣8 scored and the A was Zia’s 11th trick. In the replay, North-South stopped in 3♣, making only 10 tricks for plus 130.

The full deal:

Dlr:
West
Vul:
Both
North
♠ K 7
6 3 2
K 10 4 2
♣ 8 7 5 2
West
♠ J 5
K J 9
A J 7 5 3
♣ Q J 3
East
♠ Q 10 9 6 3
Q 8 7
Q 9 8 6
♣ 10
South
♠ A 8 4 2
A 10 5 4
♣ A K 9 6 4