Main     Column 7C44 by Richard Pavlicek    

Tricky Lead Beats Cold Contract

The bridge talent in Broward County was augmented with the recent arrival of Mitch Chandler, formerly of Detroit. Chandler, a fine player with many years of experience, is at his best when the competition is tough — and few events are tougher than the Men’s Swiss Teams at the recent Southeastern Regional Tournament in which he placed third.

On today’s deal Chandler’s teammates easily made four hearts because of the favorable lie of the East-West cards. (Observe that all of declarer’s finesses will work.) Therefore, when the identical contract was reached at Chandler’s table, all indications suggested that the deal would be a “push” and create no swing.

4 H S K J 7 3
H 10 5
D A Q 7 6 2
C K 5
Both Vul

West

Pass


North

4 H


East

All Pass


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

Not so! Chandler, West, had no attractive opening lead and chose to underlead his spade ace, a deceptive but risky play. Declarer naturally misguessed by calling for dummy’s jack; queen, ruff. A club was led to the king and the next club was taken by East, who returned a trump. Declarer properly won the heart ace (the finesse could not be repeated anyway) to ensure a ruff in dummy. A club was ruffed; a spade ruffed; then the heart queen was led to the king. East exited with the heart nine to South’s jack to reach a five-card ending.

Declarer next led a diamond toward dummy which remained with K-7 in spades and A-Q-7 in diamonds. Declarer could succeed simply by finessing the queen; but only two tricks had been lost so he correctly ducked to guard against a singleton king. East seized the opportunity to overtake partner’s nine with the jack to return a low spade.

From declarer’s point of view the diamond finesse was still a 50-50 proposition; but he was 90 percent convinced that East held the spade ace because of West’s opening lead. Hence, he discarded a diamond expecting the trick to be won by the spade king in dummy. Oops! Chandler grabbed the ace and the ice-cold contract was defeated.

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© 5-3-1987 Richard Pavlicek