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Defensive Holdup Tests Declarer

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred recently in a Swiss team event at the Ft. Lauderdale Bridge Club and was reported by Gary Schneider of Sunrise, who held the West cards. Despite his best efforts, he watched one of America’s leading players, Bernie Chazen of Tamarac, bring home a difficult slam.

6 D South
None Vul
H A K J 10 5
D Q 10 6
C A Q 8 4 3

2 S
1 H
3 S
6 D
1 S
2 D
5 D
S J 10 6
H 8 7 6 2
D A 2
C J 9 5 2
TableS A K 9 8 5
H 9 3
D 7 4
C K 10 7 6

Lead: S J
S Q 7 4 3 2
H Q 4
D K J 9 8 5 3

The bidding was aggressive, but sound. After North’s routine opening and East’s overcall, South entered the fray with his freakish distribution. West raised to two spades and North cue-bid three spades to show a good hand and, by inference, support for diamonds. This prompted South to take a stab at game, and North could not resist the temptation to bid slam. Both of these last two bids were well judged, despite the random appearance.

West led the spade jack and Chazen, South, trumped in dummy. The diamond queen was led and West made a fine play of withholding his ace. (Winning the ace would allow declarer to draw trumps and run the heart suit for an easy 12 tricks.) Declarer was now in a predicament; he could not play another diamond because dummy would be left without a trump, and the opponents could cash their spade tricks.

The only chance was to run the heart suit and hope for the best, so the play went: heart to the queen; heart to the ace; heart king. East ruffed this trick and South overruffed. A spade was ruffed with dummy’s last trump and the club ace was cashed for a spade discard. Fortunately for declarer, West had to follow suit as another spade was discarded on the heart jack.

Finally, the heart 10 provided a parking place for South’s last spade — just in time — as West ruffed with the diamond ace.

Making six diamonds… the hard way!

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek