Column 7D04   Main

Trump Stack Ground to Mincemeat

  by Richard Pavlicek

Last week’s continent-wide Royal Viking Pairs had more than its fair share of exciting deals. I could not participate, of course, since I wrote the analyses for the booklet — some might consider that an unfair advantage — but I suspect today’s deal (No. 29) caused the most fireworks. The bidding and play comprise a good lesson.

5 D× South
Both Vul
S 9 2
D A 9 8 7
C A K Q 10 9 4
1 C
4 NT
4 H
5 D
H 2
D 10 6 5 4 3
C J 6 5 3
TableS J 8 7 6 3
H K Q J 8 6 5 3
C 2

Lead: S K
S 10 5 4
H 10 9 7 4
D K Q J 2
C 8 7

North has a problem when East’s routine jump to four hearts is passed around to him. Most players, if they bid at all, would opt for five clubs — not terrible, but it commits the partnership to one contract. It would be an improvement to double (optional); but the expert call is four notrump. This cannot be Blackwood (if North’s hand were that strong he would open two clubs) so it is a form of the “unusual notrump” to show the minor suits. Further, since North bid clubs first, it is obvious that his clubs are longer than his diamonds.

South might have held no points at all, so he is delighted to bid his sturdy diamond suit — though not as delighted as West, who thinks the holidays have come early this year. Double! East is uneasy about this, but he decides to trust his partner and pass.

Assume West cashes the first two spade tricks and continues with a third round, forcing dummy to ruff. It looks like money in the bank for West; his trumps include the 10-spot, and he holds greater length than declarer or dummy. But this is all a mirage. Declarer can make mincemeat out of West’s trumps with proper play.

After ruffing the third spade, lead a diamond to your king to reveal the bad news. Next cash three top clubs, ruff a club with the deuce of diamonds (West must follow suit), then lead a heart to dummy’s ace. Holding A-9 opposite Q-J in diamonds, you can crossruff the last four tricks. West is helpless (and probably irate).

Winning tip: When you discover a bad trump break, stop leading trumps. Cash whatever side-suit winners you can, then try for ruffs in either hand.

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© 1988 Richard Pavlicek