Today’s deal is from a team match some years ago. North-South were a top pair from Scotland, where four-card major suit openings were popular. East was Zia Mahmood, who has been one of the world’s great players over the past four decades or so. He is also one of the great personalities and he carries a reputation of playing with a lot of flair.
We do not know why Zia bid three clubs. He possibly intended it as a lead-directing bid and was planning to bid three diamonds if three clubs was doubled. Perhaps you have a better guess. His partner led a club to Zia’s king, and Zia had to decide how best to continue. This is a very favorable lie of the cards for declarer, and it is likely that he would have come to nine tricks. Zia, however, made a remarkable shift to the two of hearts at trick two, into dummy’s powerful holding.
Declarer was convinced that this had to be a singleton. He captured W est’ s king of hearts with dummy’ s ace and, instead of taking the spade finesse, cashed the ace and king of spades. He led a club to Zia’s ace and Zia continued with the three of hearts. South won in dummy and led a spade, but Zia hopped up with his queen and led a diamond to West’s ace. West quickly gave Zia a heart ruff and the contract was defeated. Beautifully done!