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Sound Technique Prevails

  by Richard Pavlicek

Bridge students are taught very early to plan the play as declarer. On some occasions this plan will be specific — a trick-by-trick forecast of the play. But on other occasions it will be a general plan of attack or basic strategy. The latter is common when several tricks must be lost early, since much depends on what the defenders do. Today’s deal from a local duplicate game falls into this category.

4 S South
N-S Vul
S K 10 8 2
H 6
D Q J 6 5
C J 8 5 4


2 C
3 S

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

Lead: D 7
S A 7 4 3
H Q 10 9
D A 4 3
C A Q 2

The bidding was straightforward, though aggressive. After South’s notrump opening (15-17 points), North gambled to use the Stayman two-club response with only 7 HCP (normally 8 are recommended) and was rewarded when South bid spades. North invited game and South accepted with his quality 16 points.

West led the diamond seven; queen; king; ace; and declarer thought about his plan. The complexity of this deal was apparent so an exact prognosis was impossible. All declarer could do was to follow sound technique and hope for something good to happen. Dummy was entered with the spade king to lead the singleton heart toward the closed hand. East hopped with the ace (an error that will be seen later) and returned a diamond to dummy’s jack.

Declarer continued with a low club to the queen and king, and West exited safely with a trump. Declarer was pleased with the favorable trump situation, but problems still lay ahead. West’s trump was drawn with dummy’s 10, then declarer led a diamond hoping for an even break. East won and returned his last diamond which South ruffed and West discarded… hold it there… just what should West discard?

West remained with 10-9-3 in clubs and K-8 in hearts. If he threw a club, dummy’s long club would be good; if he threw a heart, a heart ruff would establish the queen. And so, a favorable yet unforeseeable ending was reached by applying sound general technique — with a little luck.

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek