Column 7D03 by Richard Pavlicek
Todays deal occurred recently at the Bridge Club of Tamarac. It features a fine defensive play by Bill Howe, the clubs manager and current president of the Gold Coast Unit of the American Contract Bridge League. As East, Howe sealed the fate of Souths three-notrump contract even though his partner led the wrong suit.
Souths intentions were to bid clubs first and then spades twice the proper way to describe six-five distribution but East botched this up with his one-spade overcall. South did the best he could by doubling. Note that this was a penalty double because North had already bid.
North might have passed the double Howe probably would be set two tricks but low-level doubles (especially at the one level) are cooperative; his decision to bid two diamonds was reasonable. This gave South a problem. It is unattractive to bid notrump with freakish distribution; however, South had high hopes that the club suit would provide six tricks, so he took a chance. I would too.
West apparently had more respect for Souths double than for his partners overcall (shame, shame) so he led a heart, which East correctly ducked to Souths king. Declarer cashed three top clubs and then gave West a club trick to establish the rest of the suit. West, now the wiser, returned the spade 10 to knock out dummys ace.
Declarer persisted by leading the heart queen, and East won the ace. At this point Howe had a complete count of the hand; he knew that South had one heart, six clubs (from the play), five spades (from Wests lead) and hence, one diamond. He also knew that declarer could win eight tricks, so he returned a diamond and waited for South to lead spades into his king-jack. Down one.
Declarer could have made the contract after Wests masterful heart lead. Play a spade to the ace; heart queen to Easts ace; then win the diamond return (best defense). Clear the clubs pitching diamonds from dummy, and East-West can win only two more tricks before surrendering the lead to North or South.
© 1988 Richard Pavlicek