Main     Column 7B71 by Richard Pavlicek    

Calculated Overbid Pays Dividend

It is generally accepted that a combined total of at least 26 HCP are required to offer a sound play for three notrump. In practice, however, there are many other factors, such as suit length, suit texture, honor location and bidding clues, that can lower this requirement. An experienced player knows when to defy the textbooks.

Helen Shanbrom of Tamarac made the most of the South hand on today’s deal. After passing originally, she reopened with one notrump when West’s one-club opening was passed around. When North raised to two notrump, most players would have thrown in the towel; but South reasoned that her play would be aided by the fact that West held most of the outstanding points (and she liked the texture of her heart suit). Hence, she pushed on to game knowing very well that the point count would be substandard.

3 NT S Q J 10 7
H K J
D A 3 2
C Q 10 6 5
Both Vul

West

1 C
Pass
All Pass


North

Pass
2 NT


East
Pass
Pass
Pass


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

West chose to lead a spade, won by South’s king, and another spade was returned to the ace. West exited with a third spade to dummy as South discarded a diamond. On the last spade East and South threw diamonds, then a club was led to the king and ace. West returned the heart three to dummy’s jack.

It was becoming obvious that West was short in diamonds (he bid clubs, showed up with four spades and led a small heart from the queen), so declarer cashed the diamond ace. The fall of the king gave convincing evidence that West began with 4-4-1-4 distribution, and declarer found the winning play:

She overtook the heart king with the ace, finessed the club ten, cashed the club queen and exited with a club to West. After cashing the heart queen, West was obliged to concede the last trick to South’s ten — and that was her ninth trick.

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© 9-22-1985 Richard Pavlicek