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This year in Copenhagen three men well remembered by U.S. experts for their fine play in World Championship team matches helped Sweden win the Scandinavian Championship, topping Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland. I played against two of the three, Nils-Olof Lilliehook and Jan Wohlin, in the very first world title event when we won in 1950. In 1953 these two played against the U.S. again on a team that also included their third ace, Gunnar Anulph.
Each of the five countries entered two teams in the Scandinavian Championship, and the cumulative results of both counted in the final decision. There was also a ladies event, won by the Danes despite the fact that two of their best women players, Otti Damm and Rigmor Fraenckel, represented their country only in the Open Class event.
It was in Copenhagen that the following hand occurred, one that makes a neat and succinct point.
South was just too strong for an opening bid of one no trump—top limit 18 points—and not strong enough to open two no trump—requiring at least 22. Either one diamond or his actual choice of one club, followed by the jump to two no trump, exactly pictured his 19-point balanced hand.
A capacity audience was watching the Bridge-O-Rama as this hand was played by Finland (North-South) and Denmark, and every one of them knew that declarer would not go wrong when the crucial decision came. If you'd like to share South's problem, look only at the North-South hands.
Dummy's 7 and East's 8 of diamonds were played on the first trick, taken by South's queen. Declarer cashed three top hearts, on which everybody followed, and attempted to run four clubs, but West showed out on the third round, discarding the spade 4.
Needing two spade tricks, but fearful that if he lost the lead in any other suit but diamonds the defenders could win enough diamonds to set the contract, South led dummy's diamond 9, hoping to throw West in. He was disappointed when East produced the 10 of diamonds. But, after a moment's pause, West overtook with the jack to cash the ace, king and 3 of diamonds.
On these tricks East discarded the fourth heart, the fourth club and the spade 3, so all hands were left with nothing but spades at the 12th trick. West led the spade 6. Declarer now had to guess whether to play dummy's 10 or queen. But West could not have the king of spades! The reason: if he had held that card, he would surely have allowed his partner to have the lead with the 10 of diamonds, not only to let East cash his good heart and good club, but principally to let him lead a spade so that West could not be end played. So the play of dummy's 10 of spades was automatic; when it forced out East's king, dummy's queen of spades produced the ninth trick and the game.
Of course, it would not have done any good for West to let East hold the diamond trick. Declarer would have no choice but to let a spade lead run to dummy's queen, and, since West had already thrown a spade away, South would end up making four-odd.