Todays deal occurred in a recent qualifying segment of the North American Open Teams, a grass-roots event which begins at local clubs and continues in progressive stages to a championship in Boston this summer. The deal illustrates one of the perils that can befall declarer with accurate defense.
North opened a weak two-bid in hearts, and East jumped to three notrump with his 20-point hand. East cannot win nine tricks on his own, but in pressure situations it is reasonable to gamble that partner has a few scattered points. It is impossible to bid with complete accuracy after an enemy preempt.
Souths bid of four spades was a sacrifice. He figured to win six trump tricks on his own, plus a couple of tricks from partner would mean down two minus 500 instead of the 600 East-West would score in three notrump. It didnt work out that way. Not only did North fail to provide two tricks, but Souths trump suit was riddled by the defense.
West led the heart queen, won by the ace, and declarer led a low heart from dummy. East won the heart king as West discarded the club four. In the defenders methods this was a count signal showing an even number of clubs (two or four) and implied that West was weak in clubs. (The logic is that West would hold on to his stronger suit.) East cashed the club king, noting Wests high-low; then he led the diamond king. West signaled with the nine (encouraging), so East led the diamond 10 to the ace, and West returned a diamond to Easts queen.
It was important to cash these tricks to remove all of Souths losers. East next led a heart, and South ruffed with the 10 (else West would overruff). The spade king was led to Easts ace, and the next heart was ruffed with five and overruffed with the six. West now remained with 9-3 in spades (South held Q-J-7-4) and his diamond return allowed East to ruff with the eight to promote yet another trump trick. Down five!
© 1990 Richard Pavlicek