Main     Column 7B96 by Richard Pavlicek    

Unusual Holdup

Bridge is often considered a game for the “older” generation, but more and more high-school and college students have taken an interest in recent years. Like chess, it is mentally challenging and requires logic and planning to excel. Some of these younger players improve very rapidly and become formidable opponents for their older rivals.

Steve Altus, a 16-year-old high-school junior from Tampa, is a prime example. Playing with his parents (Phil and Muriel, who taught him to play bridge about three years ago), Steve won the Flight B Swiss Teams at the huge Southeastern Regional in Miami Beach this month. His bidding on today’s deal was hardly the mark of a typical teenager, but instead portrayed the calm and coolness of a seasoned veteran.

5 C× S A 8 3
H K J 10 9 5 3
D K Q
C K 10
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
Dbl


North
1 H
3 H
Dbl
All Pass


East
1 S
4 D
Pass


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

Steve Altus, South, routinely responded two clubs to his father’s one-heart opening; but notice the well-judged pass at his next turn when East competed to four diamonds. He did not like his three small spades or his heart void, and he felt that an immediate five-club bid might cause his father to bid six (as North might well have done). He also knew his father would not pass four diamonds on the actual bidding. When North doubled, he retreated as intended to five clubs and West doubled (perhaps lured by a false opinion of South’s abilities).

South showed the same careful determination in the play as he did in the bidding. Lacking the communication to obtain a quick discard on the diamond king, he tried a holdup play to break the enemy communication. This is a common strategy at notrump, but almost unheard of with nine trumps in one hand. After winning the second spade lead, declarer unblocked the diamond ace before leading a club, then easily made his contract when West could not lead another spade.

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© 4-20-1986 Richard Pavlicek