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Flair To Declare Wins Tricks on Air

  by Richard Pavlicek

I thank Richard Waugh, managing director of the Ft. Lauderdale Bridge Club, for sending me today’s deal which was played by Ed Metz, a club regular. Metz is not an expert, but many years of experience make him a frequent winner, especially when it comes to making bold slam bids. As South on today’s deal he reached a mere seven notrump, though the auction is still a mystery. Waugh remarked, “I pulled up a chair as the play began and didn’t catch the bidding.” Therefore, I have taken the liberty to construct a possible auction.

7 NT South
N-S Vul
S 4 3
H K Q J 10 9 7
D Q J 10
C A 2

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

Lead: D 3
S A K 10 2
H A 2
D A 8
C K J 7 6 4

It is apparent that seven hearts (not notrump) is the best contract because the club suit can be established with a ruff; but that would be too easy and the Metz flair would be wasted. It is also apparent that seven notrump cannot be made — declarer has 11 top tricks and both minor-suit finesses are destined to fail. Nonetheless, as baseball great Yogi Berra would put it, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

West was a suspicious soul. He had seen Metz get away with too many slams off the first few tricks, so he led a diamond. That turned 11 tricks into 12; and when there’s 12, Metz can usually squeeze out 13. He won the diamond queen, then rapidly cashed the ace-king of spades and both minor-suit aces before running the hearts. On the last heart East let go a club to keep the spade queen, South discarded his now useless spade 10, and West was forced to throw a club to keep the diamond king. A club to the king brought down the queen — and almost the ceiling — as Metz romped home with his grand slam.

Waugh noted that “Metz was the only one in the room to make seven notrump, and probably the only one to get a diamond lead, too.” As he left the table he heard Metz explaining the intricacies of the “Vienna coup and double squeeze” to his partner.

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© 1987 Richard Pavlicek