Main     Column 7B62 by Richard Pavlicek    

Keep String Attached to Lost Trick

Today’s deal occurred in the Swiss Team event at the recent Fourth of July tournament at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood. After East’s one-club opening, South was too strong for a one-notrump overcall and so began with a takeout double. This elicited a one-spade bid from North, and South jumped to two notrump to invite. North, who had promised nothing, carried on to game.

3 NT S Q J 8 2
H 4 3
D 6 5 4 3
C Q 4 2
Both Vul

West

Pass
Pass


North

1 S
3 NT


East
1 C
Pass
All Pass


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

All would have been fine if West had led his partner’s suit; but club suits are always suspect, and West chose to lead a heart to the king and ace. This did not allow declarer time to set up any club tricks, so he had to concentrate on spades and diamonds.

He first cashed four rounds of diamonds (West discarding a club, East a club and a spade), and then led ace and another spade to dummy’s queen. If East had taken this trick, the contract would have succeeded; but East was on the ball. West had played high-low in spades to indicate an even number (obviously a doubleton), so East withheld his king.

This defense prevented declarer from reaching dummy’s fourth spade and the contract was doomed. Declarer could win only four diamonds, two spades and two hearts before West’s long heart suit became established.

Declarer went wrong when he offered East his spade king with “no strings attached.” Instead he should have led the spade nine to dummy’s queen without cashing the ace.

This would place East in an untenable position. If he won the king, declarer would have an entry to score dummy’s long spade; if he ducked, declarer could continue spades and finesse East out of his king. Either way, declarer would win three spade tricks — exactly what he needs for his contract.

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© 7-21-1985 Richard Pavlicek