Main     Column 7D01 by Richard Pavlicek    

When To Win the Ace of Trumps

Mark your calendars for Thursday evening, September 22. The second annual Royal Viking Pairs, a continent-wide event, will be held at participating local clubs. Generous masterpoint awards (including red and gold points), great prizes, and instant matchpoint scoring make this a popular event. Last year’s inaugural, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the American Contract Bridge League, drew more than 40,000 players at over 800 locations. Each participant will receive an attractive booklet by this writer analyzing each deal. Today’s deal is one of the most exciting from last year’s event.

The diagrammed bidding occurred at one table, though I doubt it was unique, considering 10,000 tables. West opened one club (too strong for one notrump, too weak for two notrump) and East offered a single raise — seven-card trump support compensated for the lack of high cards. South overcalled in spades and West jumped to three notrump, an unbeatable contract. South summoned his last ounce of courage and bid four hearts. West doubled, North took a preference, and West doubled again — as he would until the cows come home.

4 S× S 8 4 2
H Q 5
D A 9 7 6 5 3
C Q 9
Both Vul

West
1 C
3 NT
Dbl
Dbl


North
Pass
Pass
4 S
All Pass


East
2 C
Pass
Pass


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

West led the club king; South ruffed and led the spade king to West’s ace. The club-ace return was ruffed, and South led a low heart to the queen as West ducked. Declarer then led the ace and another diamond to West’s king.

With the diamond suit established, West made a last-ditch effort of ace and another heart; but declarer ruffed with the eight, drew trumps and claimed the rest to make four spades. Declarer played well but required a defensive error. Did you spot it?

West violated an important principle, one that I continually drum into my students: Holding A-x-x in trumps, the best time to win the ace is on the second round. There are several reasons for this (too many to elaborate here), but the essence is to prevent declarer from controlling the trump suit. Declarer cannot make four spades if West ducks the first spade lead. Try it.

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© 9-11-1988 Richard Pavlicek