Thousands of bridge players across the country trekked to their local bridge clubs last Tuesday evening to play in the Golden Anniversary Pairs. This event, sponsored by the Royal Viking Cruise Line, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the American Contract Bridge League. Identical, prearranged deals were played at each site and, following the completion of play, each participant received an attractive booklet with analyses by this writer.
I thought todays deal, No. 15 in the booklet, was both interesting and instructive. Many South players found themselves playing four spades, sometimes after the bidding shown: West doubled Souths opening bid for takeout and East dutifully bid his longest suit. South then clamored three spades, West took a chance with three notrump (this goes down three tricks), and North trustfully raised to four spades. West felt that his 18 points warranted a final double. Did they?
Maybe not. West led the club king then the ace which South ruffed. From the bidding it was clear that the finesses in the major suits would fail, so declarer embarked on a different campaign. He crossed to the diamond ace, ruffed another club, cashed the diamond king, and exited with a spade to West. This allowed West to win his two trump tricks; but then what? A club return would establish dummys fifth club (providing a discard for declarer); a diamond return would give a ruff and discard. So West led a heart right into the jaws of the A-K-J.
Wests final double was certainly reasonable; his defense, however, was not. After seeing the dummy, he should have realized the danger of setting up the fifth club. If declarer held another club, there was no hurry to cash it he could not get rid of it. Instead West should shift to a diamond. Now try to make four spades! (There is no way.)
© 1987 Richard Pavlicek