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Declarer Wins Prize For Endplay

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred during a team event at the Fourth of July Regional, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Bonaventure. South, who will be left nameless, became declarer in four spades and made his contract by a curious endplay.

4 S South
None Vul
S Q 10 5 3
H Q 7
D A K 3 2
C 7 6 4


2 S
2 H
1 S
4 S
S 4
H K J 10 8
D J 10 9 5
C A Q 10 9
TableS K J
H 9 6 5 3
D 8 7 6
C 8 5 3 2

Lead: D J
S A 9 8 7 6 2
H A 4 2
D Q 4

South opened the bidding one spade, West made a takeout double (note the ideal pattern), and North redoubled to show 10 points or more. East rescued his side to two hearts (the suit his partner would surely have length in), and this was passed around to North who bid two spades. South, with a sound opening bid and a sixth spade, needed no more encouragement to go to game.

West led the diamond jack. Declarer won the queen and cashed the ace of trumps — perhaps the king would drop, but no luck this time. Declarer next cashed the diamond ace-king to discard a heart, ruffed dummy’s last diamond, won the heart ace, and exited with a heart. West had to win the king, and he was endplayed: A club lead would establish the king, and a heart lead would give declarer a ruff and discard.

Declarer wins a prize! For brilliancy? No, make that a booby prize for the most foolish play of the year. Endplays may be esoteric and make the newspaper column (regretfully, even this one did), but they should not be a substitute for basic card play.

As any astute reader should notice, the contract is absolutely laydown by the simple expediency of pitching a club on the third diamond, after which only three tricks could be lost regardless of the distribution. The useless endplay only added the risk of going down if East held the heart king instead of West.

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© 1990 Richard Pavlicek