Main     Column 7D38 by Richard Pavlicek    

Reprieve Granted After Killing Lead

The Sheraton Resort and Spa at Bonaventure will host the Holiday Adventure Tournament, July 4-9. Different events are scheduled daily to cater to players of all levels — from complete beginner on up — so make your plans to attend. Among the attractions are free bridge lectures one-half hour before each afternoon game, free coffee and orange juice, and parties for new players.

Today’s deal is another from the Epson Worldwide Bridge Contest (No. 25 in the booklet) held June 9. The auction is shown as it occurred at my table.

3 NT S 9 5
H 3
D 5 4 2
C K 10 8 7 6 5 2
E-W Vul

West

Pass
All Pass


North

3 C


East

Pass


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

As South I considered opening two clubs (artificial) with my strong hand, but I rejected that because of the awkward distribution. One diamond was unlikely to be passed out. North’s response came as a disappointment — we played “weak jump shifts” — and I decided that three notrump was the best chance for game.

If I were West I would have led the heart jack (nine easy tricks); but my opponent was a firm believer in “fourth from your strongest.” Out came a spade and the defenders ran the first four tricks as I discarded a heart from hand. Things looked bleak, but I noticed a flicker of hope when West started thinking after winning the fourth spade.

Lucky day! West led a heart, and I had nine tricks with the diamond suit running. Should West have known to lead a club? Or should East have foreseen the problem and cashed the club ace before returning his last spade to West? Where did the defense go wrong?

The answer is not clear, but I have more sympathy for East’s defense. An expert West would probably find the club shift, perhaps not the queen in case South held ace-doubleton; but even the club nine beats the contract. What’s that about a bird in the hand?

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© 6-25-1989 Richard Pavlicek