Main     Column 7B65 by Richard Pavlicek    

Lousy Trump Suit Gets Bum Rap

Derogatory remarks like, “How can you bid such a lousy suit?” or even more cutting, “Where did you learn how to bid?” are often heard in the aftermath of an apparent bidding disaster. I say apparent, because sometimes the contract is quite reasonable, and it is the play which deserves comment.

When today’s deal was over, South received quite a berating for jumping to three spades on 9-8-x-x after his partner’s takeout double of West’s weak two-bid. Surely, this was the cause of the poor result of down two.

4 S S A 7 6 2
H
D A 8 5 4
C K 10 8 7 5
None Vul

West
2 H
Pass


North
Dbl
4 S


East
Pass
All Pass


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

Not really. South’s bidding, while aggressive, cannot be criticized and in fact would meet with expert approval. His play (which will go unmentioned) was the sole cause of the disaster. Four spades is a tricky contract, but should be made with proper technique and careful timing.

West’s opening lead is ruffed in dummy and declarer should immediately lead a low spade. Note that both major-suit aces are retained for controlling purposes later on.

The best defense is for West to win the king and shift to a diamond (else declarer can establish the club suit and avoid a diamond loser), which is ducked around to East’s king. East can do no better than return a trump to dummy’s ace.

Declarer then crosses to the diamond queen, cashes the club ace, and crosses to the club king. The diamond ace provides a parking place for South’s remaining club, and a club is ruffed in hand to establish the suit.

A heart is then ruffed with dummy’s last trump and a good club is led. As East ruffs with his master trump, South discards his last heart loser and claims the rest — making four spades.

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© 8-11-1985 Richard Pavlicek