In most of the world it is usual to fasten a rope at the top and climb down. In India, however, a few gifted mystics are said to be able to toss a rope into the air and climb up. So it is appropriate, perhaps, that the bridge magic I am about to report should have occurred at an Indian bridge table.
Elsewhere in the bridge world, talk runs to hands on which a player trumps his partner's ace. But the Indian Bridge World magazine recently reported this deal in which a player aced his partner's trump!
Our hero was Shri D. V. Gore, a member of Bombay's team in championship matches played last year in Calcutta. The similarity in our names is such that I am tempted to claim at least a cousinship to the author of this play, but I must confess I have been unable to trace any branch of my family to the regions of India.
North's two no-trump response rates an award for bravery, though hardly for accuracy. However, a more seemly response of one no trump would not have affected the final contract. South would probably jump rebid to three hearts, and of course his partner would raise to four. But even if South were to rebid only two hearts, North would find a raise, and South would then go on to game. So the four-heart contract was entirely normal.
Fortunately for the defenders—and for this story—West hit upon the essential opening lead of the club ace. Then he made the equally essential shift to a trump, in hopes of preventing declarer from ruffing a spade loser.
Dummy's 9 of hearts took the trick. Declarer saw three discards readily available—two on dummy's good clubs and one on the ace of diamonds. But three discards were as good as none at all, for this would still leave South with three losers in spades unless East held both the ace and king or unless he could trump one round of the suit in dummy. So declarer led dummy's 6 of spades.
East, Shri Gore, played low and North's 6 was allowed to ride around to West's 10. Continuing his plan of trying to kill the threat that dummy would ruff a spade, West returned another heart—and it was this trump which his partner aced!
He didn't come up with the play in a hurry. Indeed, it needed a long, long huddle to muster up the nerve to make such an unusual discard. But East finally decided it was hopeless to set the contract if he kept the ace of spades, so he threw it away!
As a result, when declarer led another spade toward his hand West was able to win the trick and return the third heart which swept the dummy bare of trumps. Winning in dummy and getting rid of three spades on the available discards didn't do declarer a bit of good. He still had to surrender a spade trick, and that was the trick that set the contract.
Observe what happens if East keeps the ace of spades. He is forced to win the second spade lead and can neither lead a trump nor put his partner in to do so. South can trump any return, ruff a third spade with dummy's last heart and, after ruffing himself back in to draw the last adverse trump, the rest of South's spades would be high. The defenders would win only three tricks.