Main   Almost Bridge 7E07 by Richard Pavlicek  

Slam Bid Hospitalizes Eskimo

Today’s deal, another from the North Pole Tournament, caused havoc for many North-South pairs who bid too much with their 31 high-card points. Indeed one Eskimo was hospitalized after he bid a slam — it seems the reindeer sitting East-West celebrated the defeat with too much glee, dealing the Eskimo an antler in the ear. Latest reports indicate he is recovering.

Most of the reindeer duplicated the auction of Randolph and Raymond as shown. Randolph, South, opened one club and Raymond bid his diamond suit after West’s overcall. Randolph rebid two notrump to show his spade stopper and Raymond raised to four — a quantitative slam try (not Blackwood), which Randolph correctly refused with his lousy 14 points. An excellent auction, but even four notrump proved to be too high.

4 NT South

None Vul
S 9 8 7
H K 10 4
D A K 9 4
C A K 9
S A Q J 6 5
H 9 7
D 10 5
C 10 6 5 4
TableS 10 4
H J 8 6 5
D J 8 7 6
C 8 7 3
Lead: H 9S K 3 2
H A Q 3 2
D Q 3 2
C Q J 2


1 S

2 D
4 NT

All Pass
1 C
2 NT

West cagily led a heart, rather than present declarer with a spade trick, and Randolph had nine sure tricks: three in every suit but spades. The spade ace obviously was offside, so he first tested hearts, then diamonds, to see if either suit broke favorably. No luck. Randolph then cashed his club winners ending in dummy and made one last attempt by leading the spade nine. If East had played low, he would have ducked it to West who remained with A-Q-J-6; but East alertly played the ten, and Randolph was defeated.

A discussion was held later to determine if four notrump could be made, but the reindeer failed to find a solution. Even Rudolph, with his inspired play, could win no more than nine tricks after a heart lead. Can you make it?

This was a job for Master Mouse. The reindeer chipped in for a long-distance phone call to the rodent’s home, and the answer came forthwith: “Yes… your basic holdup play. Duck the heart nine completely, then cash all your red-suit winners on which West discards one spade and two clubs (best). Cash your clubs ending in dummy and West must keep either A-Q-J or A-Q-6 in spades. Either way you can force a spade trick in the end.” TopMain

© 1987 Richard Pavlicek