Mark Horton

This could get to be a Habert

When an expert makes what they consider to be a routine play they are frequently surprised when it arouses the admiration of others.

When Canada’s Rhoda Habert made a spectacular opening lead that resulted in the defeat of a grand slam, the first person to congratulate her afterward was the unlucky declarer.

Dealer: East

Vul: East/West

Q 7 3
A Q J 7 6
A Q J 8 5
West East
J 6 9 2
A Q 10 8 J 9 6 5 3 2
K 8 10 5 4 2
10 9 4 3 2 7
A K 10 8 5 4
K 7 4
9 3
K 6
West North East South
Habert Wittes Gwozdinsky Quinn
Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 2
Pass 5 * Pass 6
Pass 6 Pass 7
All Pass

After using Exclusion Blackwood North made a grand slam try which South was happy to accept.

From West’s point of view her holding in diamonds was horrendous, so in an attempt to deflect declarer from what might be a contract winning finesse she led the eight of diamonds!

Declarer won with dummy’s ace and when she tried to cash two rounds of clubs East ruffed to scupper the contract.

On a more passive lead, say for example a trump, declarer wins in hand, ruffs a heart and then plays all her trumps, squeezing West in three suits.

I hate to mention it, but after the diamond lead there is a winning line even if East has the king:

After taking the ace, declarer comes to hand with a trump, ruffs a heart and then runs the trumps to reach this position (I have moved the king of diamonds to the East hand for effect):

A Q J 8 5
West East
A J 9 6
K 10
10 9 4 3 2 7
K 7
K 6

When declarer plays the last spade West has to surrender. Notice that this squeeze operates against either defender who happens to hold five clubs and the ace of hearts.

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