Main     Column 7D43 by Richard Pavlicek    

Both Sides Wary in Thrust and Parry

Today’s contract is unspectacular — not many two-heart contracts make the newspaper — but it is a fine example of a thrust-and-parry contest between declarer and the defenders. The defensive principles, especially, are well worth studying as they occur time and time again at all kinds of contracts.

2 H S 8 6 5 3
H 8 4
D Q 4
C A Q 10 6 5
None Vul


All Pass


1 NT

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

East routinely opened one notrump and South overcalled in his six-card heart suit. Note that East did not bid again since he had made a limit bid (defined within narrow bounds); West is the one who should compete if appropriate.

West led the spade two and East played the jack — a discovery play. East knew that South held the ace (West would not underlead an ace at a suit contract), so he discovered that West held the queen when the jack forced the ace.

Declarer’s first thrust was a diamond to the queen, hoping to be able to ruff a diamond in dummy. East won the king, and parried by returning a trump, taken by ace. If declarer led another diamond, the defense would return another trump to nullify any chance for a diamond ruff.

Declarer next tried a different tack. He led a club, hoping to establish a discard on dummy’s suit; eight, 10, king. East cashed the spade king before the mice got at it. Now what? A trump return would allow declarer to win the king and obtain a discard on the third club, as West ruffs with his high trump. Likewise with a spade or diamond return. Is the defense stymied?

Not necessarily. West’s club play (the eight) made the lie of that suit obvious, so East strove to break up declarer’s communication before trumps could be drawn. He returned a club to dummy’s queen.

Declarer had one thrust left. He discarded a diamond on the club ace as West ruffed, apparently at the cost of his natural trump trick. But wait! The defense parried one more time with a diamond to East’s ace, then another club for a trump promotion. Down one, in a fierce battle with bodies all over the place.


© 7-30-1989 Richard Pavlicek