Column 7B81 by Richard Pavlicek
Todays deal occurred a number of years ago in the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams, the premier event of the Spring North American Championships. As you might expect, both South players found the proper play to make their contract. But I wonder what percentage of the bridge-playing public would have duplicated their feat; I suspect it would be very low.
East overcalled Norths opening bid with one heart and South responded in his fine suit. When North rebid one notrump to show a heart stopper and a balanced hand (hence, at least two spades), South was assured of an eight-card spade fit and he jumped to game without further ado.
Put yourself in the South seat and decide how you would play four spades after West leads a low heart (his partners suit). Naturally, you put up dummys heart king to force out the ace. Right?
Wrong! You just went down. Sorry, if I talked you into that play; but you must admit that very few people would think of anything else.
The correct play is to duck the opening lead around to the heart nine. One heart trick can always be established later by leading the king through East; but with proper technique it is possible to establish two heart tricks when West has led from 10-x-x or J-x-x very likely in view of the bidding and the low heart lead.
Assume East wins the first trick with the heart jack and returns a club to your king. Cross to dummy with a trump and lead the heart king (East does best to duck), then continue with the heart queen: ace; ruff; ten.
Dummys eight of hearts is now established to provide a much-needed discard. The contract is made despite the bad trump break and losing diamond finesse.
© 1985 Richard Pavlicek