Main     Column 7E21 by Richard Pavlicek    

Big Risk Justified by Big Reward

Here is an exciting deal from the Labor Day Regional Tournament held in Atlanta. Our South player may have bitten off more than he could chew.

6 NT S
H A Q
D K Q 8 3 2
C Q J 7 6 5 4
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass


North
1 D
3 C
5 D


East
Pass
Pass
Pass


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

Some readers will scorn South’s final bid, but the deal occurred at matchpoint duplicate. The extra 10 points for making six notrump instead of six spades gives the entrepreneur an excellent score if successful; hence, the risk was justified. At rubber bridge South would bid six spades, not only for the added safety but to score his 150 honors. (Honors do not count in duplicate bridge scoring.)

West failed to find the killing club lead, but instead made the natural lead of the diamond jack. This was covered by the queen and ace, then East slyly returned the club 10. Observe that declarer has 12 top tricks (seven spades, three hearts, one diamond and one club) but, alas, only 11 can be cashed because of the blockage in the heart suit. East’s diabolical club shift had the effect of a guillotine, fatally cutting declarer’s communication.

What to do? Experienced players know that situations like this can often be overcome by leading a long suit. Give the opponents a chance to discard wrongly, and they may come to your rescue. Accordingly, South ran his spade suit. On the last spade, West had to pitch a heart from J-8-6 to protect diamonds, after which North let go the diamond eight which had done its job. Next a diamond to the king caught East in the final crunch; he had to pitch a heart from 10-9-7 to keep the club king (else North’s club queen would be good). Finally, declarer crossed to the heart ace and overtook the queen with his king to win the last trick with a low heart.

Declarer succeeded in making his contract by a double squeeze, an expert technique that is also within the grasp of ordinary players. A satisfying aspect is that declarer required no knowledge of squeeze plays. All he had to do was cash his tricks and use common sense in discarding.

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© 9-20-1981 Richard Pavlicek