The Curse of Scotland

The layout of the diamonds in Board 3 in the Mayfield Cup Pairs on Tuesday 17th April reminded Sean O’Neill and myself of a ‘brilliancy’, executed at the table in a 1989 Camrose match by the late Patrick Jordain, a Welsh international.
The hand was subsequently written up extensively in the bridge press by David Burn and others, e.g ‘The Rodwell Files’, Master Point Press, Page 128.

Patrick’s problem at the table was how best to play the following combination for just one loser in a no trump contract. (Side suit entries were no problem.)

North; A 4
South; K 10 8 7 5 3

There is no problem when the defenders’ cards break 3/2, but can you cope with any 4/1 breaks?

At teams, it costs nothing to start with South’s 10, intending to let it ride.
When West plays Q, J or 9, however, you will rise with the Ace and cover East’s card on the return.

The real bonus for this contra intuitive play is when East has the singleton nine. West holding Q J 6 2 is now confined to just one defensive trick! Overall success chances improve by about 3%.

You might conclude that this is just esoteric theory, but Patrick actually brought off this coup at the table! David Burn for England in the other room missed this unique safety play.
You might ask, what’s all this got to do with Board 3 played at the Club on 17th April ? Well, lightening nearly struck twice! Sean, playing 3NT, needed tricks from this diamond suit.

North; A 10 8 4 2
South; K 6 5

West did have the singleton 9, an unusual coincidence! But running the 10, in this layout, does not quite work.
My hand (East) will cover from Q J 7 3 promoting the 7 into a second winner!

Roger Morton 26th April 2018