Main     Article 7J37 by Richard Pavlicek    

Major Two-Suiter

I was East on this deal from an online team game in December. After arriving at a routine 3 NT contract, it was annoying to hear South compete to 4 H. My partner passed this around (implying only two hearts) and I doubled. Perhaps I should have gambled on 4 NT, but my three-card heart length suggested defending — plus, South was known to be a wild bidder.

4 H× by South

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

West
1 NT
Pass
North
Pass
Pass
East
3 NT
Dbl
South
4 H
All Pass

My partner led the D K and continued the suit, as South carefully ruffed with the eight. The H 3 was then led to the seven (West might have played the king to block the extra entry, but this is a tough play that could backfire). Declarer next led a spade to the king as I ducked, then a heart back to dummy, felling the king. A second spade went to my blank ace.

It was obvious now to lead a club, and West took the ace. After a brief consideration, my partner realized I couldn’t have a singleton club (that would give me four spades, and I would have used Stayman) so he led his last spade which I ruffed. Whew! That was close.

Did you spot declarer’s subtle error? At trick two he should have discarded his club instead of ruffing. The rest of the play would go the same, but the difference is that I would have no way to get West on lead to get the spade ruff. (Declarer could also succeed by leading spades just once from dummy then ducking to my blank ace, but this has a double-dummy tinge.)

Curiously, the only defense that always beats 4 H is a spade lead to the ace and a spade back. Now declarer can’t stop the ruff because he has no entry to his hand to draw the last trump.

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© 2001 Richard Pavlicek