(1) Strong and artificial
Sally Brock is one of Great Britain’s top players, with a couple of world championships and many European titles to her credit. She showed her enormous talent on this seemingly hopeless contract from a tournament in Denmark in 1990. At the time, Brock was Sally Horton. Her partner was Steve Lodge.
The contract seems doomed. Even if the spade finesse works, it appears declarer must lose a trump and two clubs. You don’t win championships, however, by giving up.
West led the ♥K to dummy’s ace. A diamond to the king revealed the trump loser. Brock cashed the ♠A and made the key play — the ♦8, covered by the 9, to dummy’s ace. The spade finesse was successful, and when Brock cashed the ♠K and saw West follow, the count of his hand was complete: three spades, five hearts (East’s jump to 4♥ must have been based on four-card support), four diamonds and therefore one club.
So Brock cashed the ♣A and exited with her ♥J. West was endplayed, thanks to Brock’s thoughtful play of the ♦8.
If West got out with a low diamond, dummy’s 7 would put declarer in dummy. The 13th spade would provide a parking place for one of declarer’s club losers. West would get the trump trick back by ruffing the spade, but West would then be down to nothing but hearts and would have to concede a ruff-sluff, allowing Brock to get rid of the other club loser.
If West got out with a high trump, Brock would have had an even easier time.
If West exited with a heart instead of a trump, declarer would ruff in dummy and discard one club loser, throwing the other on the long spade.
The winning defense is not easy to spot – West must refuse to cover the ♦8. Declarer would have no diamond losers, but would not be able to establish the long spade in dummy and get back to it. Brock would have had to lose a heart and two clubs.
The fact that West erred takes nothing away from Brock’;s spectacular play.
The full deal: