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Greed Pays Off

  by Richard Pavlicek

Greed, deceit and larceny are not appealing as personal attributes, but these traits are vital to becoming a successful tournament player. I am referring of course to their application within the proprieties of the game.

The tournament player must show no sympathy toward his opponents and look for every opportunity to seize an advantage in the bidding and play. As declarer his goal is not really to make the contract, but to win more tricks than other declarers will win holding the same cards. How this is accomplished does not matter — the numbers on the score slip do not tell stories.

Today’s deal from the recent Epson World Simultaneous Pairs is a good example of declarer’s greed. Against the routine three-notrump contract West led the diamond six, ducked to East’s king. A heart was returned and declarer successfully finessed the queen.

3 NT South
N-S Vul
S K 3 2
H 7 6
D A J 8
C Q 9 7 3 2
3 NT
1 NT
S 10 8
H 9 4 2
D Q 10 7 6 2
C J 10 4
TableS A 7 6 5
H K 10 5 3
D K 5 3
C 8 6

Lead: D 6
S Q J 9 4
H A Q J 8
D 9 4
C A K 5

Instead of asking himself, “How can I guarantee my contract?” a good tournament player would think, “Clubs will probably run for five tricks; I can rake in three heart tricks with another finesse; and the diamond finesse should work for two tricks. If I could sneak a spade through, that would bring the total to 11; then I could run these tricks and try to squeeze somebody for 12, and a top board.”

Accordingly, our greedy declarer led a sneaky jack of spades at trick three and played low from dummy. East could have and probably should have won this; but he did not realize the danger and ducked. Good-bye! Declarer cashed the ace-king of clubs, finessed the jack of diamonds, and ran all the remaining winners in dummy. South’s last three cards were the A-J-8 in hearts, and East was forced to throw a heart to keep the spade ace. Finally, the heart finesse gave declarer the rest of the tricks.

That’s how tournaments are won.

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek