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The Disappearing Loser

  by Richard Pavlicek

Last Sunday my wife, Mabel Pavlicek, and Stanley Friedberg of Hollywood drove up to the Vero Beach Sectional Tournament to play in the Swiss Teams. Having been “bridged out” from the recent World Championships, I was delighted to spend a quiet day at home watching football. Shortly after midnight she returned, beaming with victory and spewing bridge hands left and right. “Please use this hand,” she implored in her bubbly voice, “and I’ll cook your favorite meals all week.” Considering her team won eight matches (with no losses) and the deal was indeed worthy, I could hardly refuse.

4 S South
Both Vul
S A 7 2
H 7 4 2
D A 9 3
C K Q 8 2


2 C
4 S

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

Lead: H Q
S K 8 6 5 3
H A K 3
D K J 4
C 6 3

Mabel was South and opened one spade, her partner responded two clubs, and she rebid two notrump to show a balanced hand with stoppers in the other suits. North considered raising to three notrump, but the partnership played “five-card majors” and his heart holding was weak — hence, he opted for the spade game.

West led the heart queen to South’s ace, and a low club was led to the king as West ducked. Declarer returned to her hand with the spade king to lead another club, taken by West who returned a heart to South’s king. A spade was led to the ace, bringing bad news as West threw a diamond, and declarer discarded her losing heart on the club queen.

At this point it was obvious that two trumps had to be lost in addition to the club ace, so the contract appeared to depend on the ill-fated diamond finesse. Not really. Declarer put on her black silk hat, uttered a magic word… Presto!… and the diamond loser disappeared.

Declarer ruffed dummy’s last heart in her hand, then cashed two top diamonds ending in dummy. South and East remained with a diamond and two trumps, and East’s trumps were high. In essence South held three losers, but a club lead from dummy made one of them disappear. If East ruffs, South discards; if East discards, South ruffs.

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek