Main     Article 7J57 by Richard Pavlicek    

Elusive 12th Trick

A little birdie showed me this deal. Holding the North hand, she wasn’t sure how to proceed after her partner opened 1 D and West overcalled 1 H. The first bid of 1 S was easy, of course, but the question was how to ask for heart control en route to a slam in diamonds. At the table she just used her women’s intuition.

6 D by South

E-W Vul
S A K 8 4 3
H 9 2
D A Q 7 6
C A J
S Q 10
H A Q 10 8 5 4
D 8 5 4 2
C 3
TableS J 9 7 6 2
H J 6
D
C 10 9 7 6 5 4
Lead: C 3S 5
H K 7 3
D K J 10 9 3
C K Q 8 2

West

1 H
Pass
North

1 S
6 D
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 D
2 C

The auction was a reasonable gamble since South was a favorite to hold the H A or H K (or a singleton or void) in view of what North held. Within the confines of standard bidding, there is no specific way for North to ask for heart control. (If the trump suit were a major, a raise to five would be perfect.)

The slam was excellent, and with normal breaks it would make easily. Alas, the little birdie was sad, as her partner couldn’t cope with the foul distribution and went down one. Poor little birdie.

Proper play would overcome the bad breaks. Win the C A and lead a diamond to hand to reveal the 4-0 break. Next win the S A; ruff a spade (high); lead the D 3 to the seven (unless West plays the eight); ruff a spade; then overtake the last diamond to draw trumps.

In the five-card ending North holds S K-8 H 9-2 C J, and South holds H K-7 C K-Q-8. East was forced to pitch both of his hearts to keep S J-9 C 10-9-7 to protect both black suits. Finally, cash the S K and C J, then exit with a spade to East, who is forced to give you the last two tricks in clubs. A stepping-stone squeeze.

Oh, by the way, I would marry that little birdie again, and again…

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek