This deal, played by Jeff Meckstroth, was one of the key deals in his team’s victory on the 1991 International Team Trials. It came at a point, late in the final of the event, where the other team had mounted a rally and was threatening to take the lead. Meckstroth’s play stemmed the tide against his squad and propelled them to victory.
This contract went down on good defense. Plus 200 looked like a good score for East-West.
They didn’t reckon with Meckstroth and partner Eric Rodwell at the other table.
Meckstroth and Rodwell are among the most aggressive pairs in the world — justified more often than not by their stellar dummy play. They put both elements of their game to good use on this deal.
The contract is cold, but it must be played just right. Meckstroth didn’t know it at the time, but 20 IMPs hung in the balance on the outcome of the deal. If he went down, is team would lose 9 IMPs. If he made it, they would gain 11.
West started with the ♥A and another heart. Meckstroth ruffed and, after considerable thought, played the ♣7 from his hand. West went up with the ♣A and continued the suit. Meckstroth won in hand with the ♣J and played a spade to dummy’s singleton king.
He was at the crossroads at this point. If he tried to return to hand with a club, East could ruff in with the ♠10, promoting a trump trick for West. As long as the defenders didn’t play diamonds, Meckstroth would have to lose a trick in that suit and would finish down one.
Playing a diamond was also no good. If East held the ♦K, he could rise with it and return a heart, again promoting a trump trick for West. If West won the ♦K, he could play a third round of clubs for the uppercut.
Finally, Meckstroth hit on the winning line. He played a heart from dummy, ruffing with the queen. He then followed with the ♠A (he was down if West had started with four spades to the J-10) and a third round of spades. West was in and found himself in this pickle.
If West played a club, Meckstroth would take the marked finesse and discard two diamonds from hand. A diamond return would go to Meckstroth’s queen. Either way, Meckstroth had his doubled game and an 11-IMP gain that helped his team to victory.
The full deal: