Main     Column 7C88 by Richard Pavlicek    

Clever Play Nets Elusive Overtrick

Today’s deal was not crucial when it occurred in the Flight A Knockout Teams at the Southeastern Regional last month in Miami — only an overtrick was at stake — but it illustrates a clever play that deserves mention.

4 S S A K Q 3
H Q
D A Q 2
C A K 9 6 2
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
Pass


North

Dbl
2 D
4 S


East
1 D
Pass
Pass
All Pass


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

The auction was identical at each table. After East’s one-diamond opening was passed around, North doubled for takeout. When this elicited a spade response, North had visions of slam; but these were dampened by the adverse placement of the ace-queen of diamonds. North cue-bid two diamonds to force South to bid again, and then discreetly settled for game in spades.

Making four spades is not really a challenge; in fact it appears that declarer can win 12 tricks because the diamond loser goes away on a high club. But the par result seems to be 11 tricks. If trumps are drawn, declarer cannot do the ruffing necessary for 12 tricks; if trumps are not drawn, East can ruff the fourth round of clubs with the spade jack. There’s no way around it.

Or is there? At one table declarer found the elusive 12th trick with a pretty endplay against East. The diamond lead was taken by the ace, followed by two top clubs (throwing a diamond) and a club ruff. Trumps were drawn in two rounds, then another club ruff established that suit. At this point declarer had only one trump remaining in his hand — insufficient to ruff both of dummy’s diamonds — but the stage was set to obtain help.

Declarer exited with a heart to East, who was obliged to forfeit another trick. A diamond return would establish North’s queen; a heart return would establish South’s jack. Either way declarer wins 12 tricks. Now, if he could only go back and bid the slam.

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© 5-29-1988 Richard Pavlicek