Opening lead: 5 of clubs
Certain card combinations are played so automatically that the good player can virtually make the book play in his sleep. For example, with East's club holding, the correct card to play on the first trick is the jack; the return lead is the queen. But in this case, neither East, Baron, nor Moss, his partner, was asleep.
Declarer ducked the jack of clubs, playing the 9, and East stopped to sort out all the facts which the bidding and the play of the first four cards had put at his command. With the 3 and 4 of clubs in plain sight, East knew from his partner's lead of the 5 that declarer had begun with three cards in the suit. If he had the king, he would not dare duck the first club and have the continuation come through, so South was marked with the ace. From the bidding and the cards in his hand and dummy, it was almost a certainty that West could not have an outside entry. Thus, if declarer held up his ace until the third club lead, the suit would be dead and so would the defenders unless—and this was the big word—unless West could be made to win the second club and shift to spades before East's diamond ace was knocked out.
So, instead of making the automatic return of the queen of clubs, Baron returned the 4. South ducked again as expected, and now it was West's turn to reason. South could not have the queen of clubs or he would have won the first trick with that card. Neither could East have four clubs, because South was marked as still holding up the ace. Then why hadn't East returned the queen? Obviously, it was to direct the defense to a shift that would surely set the contract.
One look at dummy was enough to show what that suit must be, so Moss won the king of clubs and shifted to a spade. Dummy's queen was covered by East's king. With the spade ace' knocked out, the defenders were sure to win three spades and a diamond in addition to the two clubs already taken. Declarer went down two.
Of course, Moss could have achieved the same result if East had led the queen of clubs, declarer had ducked and he had overtaken with the king in order to shift to a spade. And perhaps Moss would have done so—but Baron made it easy for his partner to find the winning play.
New York's nonplaying captain, Von Zedtwitz, had a problem complicated by an even greater embarrassment of riches. It is only fair to point out that there would have been changes in the New York team if it had taken the first challenge match. Indeed, had New York won in Los Angeles, it is quite possible that an entirely different eight would have been selected—to demonstrate to the bridge world that New York had not only the best team but the two best.
But, when his first selection failed to win, Von Zedtwitz had to find the strongest possible lineup to meet the aggressive game of the Angelenos.
No one could fault Von Zedtwitz for his team selection or his captain's work in the first match. This time, he has done another creditable job by selecting a team specially designed to have the qualities most likely to succeed against Los Angeles.