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Careful Play Rewards Daring Bid

  by Richard Pavlicek

From June 7-9 a tournament was held at the Marco Polo Hotel in North Miami Beach for players age 50 and older. Although not there in person (I’ll wait 11 years, thank you), I heard it was well attended. I received a report on one of the deals from the Master Pairs on Friday night.

4 H South
E-W Vul
S 10 6 4 3
H J 5
D K 10 6 4
C Q 10 5

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

Lead: S Q
H A K 9 6 2
D A J 9 7
C J 9 6

The bidding was anything but timid. After South’s routine opening, West made a weak jump overcall in clubs and East put his fate to the wind with three spades. Perhaps South should double (routine defense scores 500), but he daringly bid his second suit. North’s false preference to four hearts was an attempt to play in the higher scoring denomination — a characteristic (if not an aberration) of matchpoint scoring.

Raymond Stultz, Jr., of Boynton Beach was South and he faced the treacherous task of making four hearts. West led the spade queen for reasons best known to himself (three rounds of clubs would scuttle the contract outright) and South won the ace.

Declarer began by leading a low heart to the jack and queen, noting with interest the appearance of West’s eight. East continued with a top spade, ruffed, and declarer cashed the heart ace. As hoped, West’s 10 came tumbling down, and declarer drew all of East’s trumps.

So far, so good; but declarer still had problems. He had to establish a club trick and guess who held the diamond queen (he could finesse either way). Moreover, being out of trumps, he had to hope that West held both top clubs and no more spades to lead (suggested by the bidding).

Since West was marked for seven clubs, two spades, two hearts and, hence, only two diamonds, declarer went with the odds and finessed East for the queen — making four hearts.

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek