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Trump Coup Nets Crucial Overtrick

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred several weeks ago during a game at the Ft. Lauderdale Bridge Club. Herb Rovner of Oakland Park was South and heard his partner open one heart. His two-spade response may look strange with only 6 HCP; but his partnership played the “weak jump-shift response,” a treatment in which a jump response shows a six-card suit in a weak hand. This was all North needed to know to proceed to game.

Anyone could make four spades on this deal; but that is not the test of a duplicate player. The scoring is such that every trick is important — overtricks are worth their weight in gold.

4 S South
None Vul
S J 2
H A K J 5 4
C A K 7 3

1 H
4 S
2 S
S 7
H Q 10 8
D K 10 9 8 7 5
C 10 8 5
TableS A Q 6 3
H 9 7 2
D 6 4 3
C Q 9 2

Lead: D 10
S K 10 9 8 5 4
H 6 3
D Q 2
C J 6 4

For example, if one player makes an overtrick (11 tricks) and all the other South players make their contract exactly (10 tricks), the player with the overtrick gets a “top” score. Rovner all but insured himself a top by scoring two overtricks, a feat which required very skillful play.

The diamond finesse was taken at trick one, North’s jack winning, and the spade jack was led and passed around. Another spade lead was won by the eight, as West shed a diamond. It now appeared that East was destined to win two trump tricks (since dummy lacked another spade to lead), but a trump coup was still possible.

Declarer cashed the ace-king of hearts and ruffed a heart, then crossed to dummy with a club. A good heart was led, East shedding a diamond (he cannot gain by ruffing) and South a club. On the next heart lead, East threw his last diamond, as did South.

The diamond ace was led and East threw a club (ruffing would make it easy), and South made the key play — ruffing this good trick to shorten his trumps. Finally, dummy was reentered with a club and East could win only his trump ace.

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek