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Give Opponents a Chance To Err

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred last Tuesday at the Pompano Beach Bridge Club. North’s three-notrump response may appear strange, but it was a systemic bid showing 13 to 16 points, good support for hearts and no singleton or void. This agreement is played in conjunction with “splinter bids,” whereby an unusual jump in a suit (3 S, 4 C or 4 D) would show good trump support with a singleton or void in the suit bid. The complete structure allows responder to describe his hand more precisely, thus increasing the accuracy of slam bidding.

4 H South
N-S Vul
S K 6
H K Q J 10 4
D Q 8
C K 7 6 3


3 NT
4 H

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

Lead: S 3
S A Q 5 2
H A 9 7 6 3
D 4 3
C A 5

South had mild slam interest so he rebid four clubs to show the ace — this was not the Gerber convention. North used good judgment to return to four hearts because of the lack of aces and the absence of diamond control. As readily seen, six hearts has no chance if the defenders lead diamonds.

Against four hearts West guessed wrong and led the spade three. The contract of course was laydown — in fact 12 tricks were now a cinch. Most players would draw trumps then cash their top spades to get rid of a diamond from dummy. Not much to it.

Duplicate bridge, however, is not an idle contest; one should not rest on one’s laurels. Our declarer reasoned that the spade lead was probably normal so almost everyone would make 12 tricks. Was there a way to win 13? Probably not against accurate defense; but accurate defense is more often the exception than the rule. Whenever possible, force the opponents to discard; give them a chance to make a mistake.

Declarer won the spade king. In order to put pressure on the opponents it was necessary to ruff out the clubs and then lead dummy’s trumps. The sequence was: heart king, club ace, club king, club ruff (high), heart to queen, club ruff, heart to jack, heart, heart. As West would you have discarded the diamond ace to keep all your spades? This West didn’t and declarer won the rest.

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© 1988 Richard Pavlicek