Last weekend was memorable for the areas bridge enthusiasts, as the Summer Sectional Tournament was held at the Palm-Aire Spa Hotel. The three-day affair sparked quite a turnout considering the off-season time of year. Many interesting deals were played, and here is one from the Open Pair event that caught my fancy:
After Norths double of three spades, South rightly chose to bid his four-card heart suit, although on this occasion a diamond contract would have proved superior (six diamonds can always be made with careful play).
Wests lead of the spade king was overtaken by Easts ace (a good defensive play) and the suit was returned, South ruffing. The heart ace and king were cashed, and the sight of Easts jack convinced declarer that trumps were not going to break 3-3. With a high trump still left in each hand, declarer shifted his attention to diamonds, but West cleverly refused to ruff any of the first three rounds (discarding two clubs and one spade). Finally, on the fourth round of diamonds West ruffed and returned a trump. Declarer was stranded in dummy and had to lose two more tricks down one.
Despite Wests cunning defense, declarer should have found the winning play. When West declines to ruff, declarer must broaden his attack to bring the club suit into the picture. After winning two diamonds (ending in hand), declarer leads a club to dummy, a diamond back to hand, and a second club to dummy. On each of these tricks West cannot gain by ruffing; dont take my word for it try it and see. Notice the key plays of leading toward dummys club honors, and not blocking the diamond suit (South must be able to win the fourth round, else West could ruff the third diamond and return a trump). After this parry-and-thrust technique, declarer finds that he has already won eight tricks; then it is a simple matter to ruff dummys last spade in hand for nine, leaving dummy with a high trump for ten making four hearts.
This deal is an excellent study in the power of trumps and contains other interesting play variations. For example: What if declarer refuses to ruff the second spade, discarding a club instead? West continues spades, and East should make the good play of ruffing with his heart jack. Declarer must overruff with the king (else East gives West a diamond ruff) and from this point on the defenders can prevail but not without a few skirmishes along the way.
© 1981 Richard Pavlicek