Todays deal was No. 25 in the Epson Worldwide Bridge Contest held on June 8. As West, I was somewhat amused when I picked up my cards OK, I can take a joke, now show me my real hand but of course it was my real hand. A suppose I should be grateful I was not playing rubber bridge for money.
South opened two notrump (20 to 22 points) and North jumped to four notrump. This was not Blackwood but a quantitative invitation to slam based on point count (North considered his hand worth more than 10 points because of the good five-card club suit). South was on the top of his range so he went directly to six notrump.
All this was no surprise to me they could make eight notrump as far as I was concerned but I had to choose a lead. A diamond would be routine (longest suit); however, in an event where the goal is to beat thousands of other pairs, this seemed like a good time to try something different. For no particular reason, I led a heart.
Dummy came down. Declarer called for a small heart, and East (my son Rich) finessed the 10 to force the king. On the surface this looks like a good start for the defense. It would be if I regained the lead (now theres a fantasy), but this time it sealed our fate for a dismal score.
Declarer cashed the ace-king of diamonds (bingo!) and ran the rest of his minor-suit winners. East had to hold the heart ace, so he could not keep his spade stopper, and declarer won all the tricks.
I wondered if my son should have realized the danger and taken his ace at trick one. Perhaps, but his play was certainly normal, as there may have been a chance to beat the contract. Then it dawned on me: The only person who did anything abnormal was me; the offbeat heart lead virtually played the hand for declarer.
Cest la vie. Last week I showed you how Harold and Madelyn Shibe topped North America. Now you see how Pavlicek and Son bottomed out the world.
© 1990 Richard Pavlicek