All the best players today are technically excellent in card play. They know all the odds and end plays to bring home their contract or thwart the opposition so the important differences are often in the bidding. Finding the best game, slam or partscore, played from the right hand, is vital. But there is another quality that separates great and genius, a quality you can’t learn, and that is imagination. The gift of seeing the whole picture and finding a winning line which is not necessarily technically conventional. Geir Helgemo is widely acknowledged as the world’s No. 1 supremo in solving problems imaginatively. Today’s hand comes from his book Bridge with Imagination.
In response to partner’s lead-directing double, West led ♣4. At the other table, with a similar auction and the same lead, East covered dummy’s ♣3 with the 6 and promptly went down. If declarer won with the king the defence would be able to cash four clubs when East got in with ♠A. Ducking was no good either as East can play ace and another club and the contract is two down. When Geir played the hand he calculated that against best defence he could only make the contract if West held ♣Q 10 4. He therefore rose with dummy’s ♣J at trick one! East could do nothing. If he won with the ace and returned a club, West’s last club would block the suit. Nor could East do any better by ducking: when he came in with ♠A it would be impossible to untangle the suit. Interestingly West can only defeat 3NT by leading the ♣10. East lets this run and declarer is doomed, whether he wins with the King or not. I bet Helgemo would have found it!