Main     Column 7B67 by Richard Pavlicek    

Declarer’s Fate Is Self-Sealed

Today’s deal caused quite a discussion during a local team game. At one table the bidding proceeded as shown. East opened one diamond, the recommended bid with four-four in the minors (if partner responds one spade, it allows a convenient rebid of two clubs). South jumped to three spades to show a long suit in a weak hand, and North carried on to game, correctly reasoning that, vulnerable, South would have more than king-queen seventh in spades.

4 S S A J
H 7 5 4
D A 9 8 6 4
C K 10 6
N-S Vul

West

Pass


North

4 S


East
1 D
All Pass


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

West led his singleton diamond and declarer captured East’s jack with the king. Trumps were drawn in three rounds, throwing a heart from dummy (East discarding a club and a heart); and the diamond 10 was ducked around to East’s queen.

The defenders now played perfectly — a heart to West and a club through dummy — to defeat the contract before relinquishing the lead. Declarer’s fate was sealed by this fine defense… or was it?

At the other table the play was identical through the first four tricks, but declarer gave more thought to his next play. Instead of leading the diamond 10, declarer led the heart queen in an attempt to break up the opponents’ communication. West did the best he could by winning the ace and shifting to a club, ducked to East’s jack. But now East was unable to cash the setting trick (dummy still had the diamond ace) so he exited safely with a heart, ruffed by South.

On the surface it still seemed that declarer would fail, but the position was almost an open book. All of the trumps were led, reducing dummy to ace-nine of diamonds and the club king. East had to keep two diamonds (else his queen would drop) and, hence, only one club. Finally, declarer exited with a club to force East to lead diamonds — making four spades.

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© 8-25-1985 Richard Pavlicek