No one is immune to the 'bridge mirage' syndrome. I repeat, NO ONE. Here's a deal from the last segment of the 2007 Bermuda Bowl final in Shanghai between USA1 and Norway where the mighty Zia fell victim. He had:
I watched on BBO vugraph when the bidding started 2C by Helness, pass by Zia, 3C positive by Helgemon and and partner (Rosenberg) overcalled 3S at all red. The bidding continued 4H to the right, 4S by Zia and 6C from LHO which was corrected to 6H, all passing.
What would you lead?
I can't know what was going through Zia's mind, and I wasn't up to the task of asking him when we talked in San Francisco. A list of lead options might go like this:
1) Ace of diamonds. Unbid suit, we cash it, hopefully and see dummy.
2) A spade. Partner bid the suit viulnerable and should have something useful.
3) A club. Maybe declarer has a stiff and we can cut him off from the suit if he lacks an entry.
4) No choice.
Yet, Zia lead a heart. Why??
I can only speculate (imagine) how Zia's mind was racing off. Why no Blackwood? Dummy must have a void. Maybe void in diamonds as he would bid 5S with a spade void but can't show void in diamonds below 6C. Declarer removed to 6H, why? Maybe a club void over there. Then maybe partner can stop the club suit with the A/K there and we should lead a trump to remove a ruff/entry on the go.
Hrm. Yes, that's it. Let's lead the T of hearts in case dummy hits with xx and partner only has a lower stiff x (records say he led the 8 of H, but as I recall it when watching, his choice was the T).
Not the best shot on the actual layout and it lost big against 6H going down at the other table after a more mundane lead (and no intervention). This is a prime example of the 'mirage', making far too much of too little hard evidence.
Well, knowledge of imminent danger (this syndrome can occur when you least expect it) can prepare us to overcome it, so:
Praemonitus praemunitus ("forewarned is forearmed") !
On a sidenote: As most probably knows, Zia is replacing Soloway on the Nickell team from the summer NABC on. So who is Hamman playing with in the Vanderbilt and the trials? What might be news is that Chris Compton, Dallas buddy and expert player, is the 'chosen one'.