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Drawing Trumps the Hard Way

I was in Atlanta for the Mid-Atlantic Regional, a six-day bridge tournament held annually around Labor Day. Unlike our Florida tournaments, the schedule consists primarily of team events — a popular format, as the attendance total of 3000 tables clearly showed. Florida tournament organizers take note!

To ensure my favorite dinners this week, I had better report that my wife, Mabel, won the Women’s Knockout Teams. Her teammates were Betty Moore and Andy O’Grady of Miami, Ruth Gold of Pompano Beach, and Marietta Beery of Orlando. Each of their matches was exciting, and the girls came from behind several times. One match even ended in a tie, and they pulled it out in overtime.

I wanted to report one of their deals, but Mabel couldn’t think of anything out of the ordinary. She said her team just played “decent bridge and capitalized on the opponents’ mistakes.”

Today’s deal illustrates good slam bidding and an unusual technique to draw the enemy trumps.

6 H S
H A 7 5 2
D A 9 4 2
C A K Q J 8
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass


North

2 C
5 NT


East

Pass
Pass


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

South opened one spade, North responded two clubs, and South bid two hearts (better than rebidding the six-card spade suit). North now could envision a slam, and maybe even a grand. Five notrump was the “grand slam force,” asking South to bid seven hearts if he held two of the top three trump honors. Lacking that, South bid six hearts.

West led a diamond, won by the ace, and declarer began correctly with the heart ace and a heart from dummy. If East played low, South would finesse the 10 (a safety play to ensure the contract), so East put up the jack to force South’s king. When West showed out, the contract was in jeopardy, but declarer continued flawlessly: Spade ace; spade ruff; club to the 10; spade ruff; then he ran the clubs. East was helpless. If he discarded, so would South; if he ruffed with the nine, South would overruff with the 10 and lead good spades to force out the remaining high trump.

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© 9-9-1990 Richard Pavlicek