Main     Column 7B23 by Richard Pavlicek    

Defensive Duck Dupes Declarer

The ninth annual North Florida Regional, held September 17-23 at the Jacksonville Hilton, was well attended by Florida players as well as top experts from around the country.

Broward County players won several events: Susan Sternberg continued her winning ways by capturing the Smoking Swiss Teams; Bill Passell and Richard Coren won the Non-Smoking Swiss Teams; Bernie Chazen, Fred Hamilton, and Allan Cokin tied for first in the Flight A Swiss Teams.

Today’s deal occurred in the Flight A Swiss Teams and features a fine defensive play.

6 NT S K Q J 9
H Q J 9
D 9 8 2
C A J 2
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass


North
1 C
1 S
5 D


East
Pass
Pass
Pass


South
1 D
4 NT
6 NT
S 5 4
H 7 6 3
D 10 5 4
C K 10 6 5 3
Table S A 10 8 2
H 8 4 2
D 7 6 3
C 9 7 4
Lead: H 7 S 7 6 3
H A K 10 5
D A K Q J
C Q 8

After North’s opening bid, South bided his time with a one-diamond response and then pushed to slam via the Blackwood convention. With 19 points opposite an opening bid, only a devout pessimist would do otherwise.

West led the heart seven (the unbid suit), taken by dummy’s queen, and declarer played routinely to develop the spade suit. A diamond to the jack; a spade to the jack (East ducking); a diamond to the queen; then a spade to the queen. Many defenders would have taken the second spade trick, but East ducked again without a flicker.

Declarer was now at the crossroads. Eleven tricks were certain (two spades, four hearts, four diamonds, and one club) and the 12th could come from either spades or clubs. But which suit should declarer try? Should he lead another spade toward dummy? Or should he take the club finesse, knowing that, if it loses, the defenders might be able to cash the spade ace as the setting trick?

There is no obvious answer. Finally, declarer returned to his hand to lead another spade. Wrong! The sight of West showing out was paralyzing.

East’s ducking plays created the losing option for declarer. If East had won the spade ace, declarer could test the spade suit first to see if the club finesse was necessary.

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© 9-30-1984 Richard Pavlicek