Main     Article 7K05 by Richard Pavlicek    

Ruffout Squeeze

This month’s deal was played in 1988 by the late Julian Gabbai, a most likable gentleman and a clever player. An accountant by profession, Gabbai was quick with numbers and had a knack for coming up with the winning decision. Let’s call this Exhibit A.

6 H by South

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



1 S
4 NT
6 H

All Pass
1 H
3 H
5 H

Gabbai, South, opened 1 H then jumped to 3 H to show his extra strength. North was then propelled to bid 6 H after checking for aces with Blackwood. This was an excellent slam, but the foul distribution of the East-West cards placed it in jeopardy.

West led a spade, taken by the ace, and declarer could see 11 easy tricks. The choice of lead made a singleton very likely, so declarer rejected the idea of drawing trumps and setting up the spades. Instead he tried the diamond finesse which lost safely to West. A club or diamond return would make it easy, but West led back a trump to set a trap: If declarer now tried to ruff a diamond, he would be locked in dummy.

Gabbai saw right through this. He led all but one of his trumps, throwing three clubs from dummy. East was forced down to six cards, and he kept S J-10-8-6 and C K-8. East still had everything under control; but declarer next cashed the D A and this was the cruncher. If East let go a spade, dummy’s spade suit could be established with a ruff; so East threw a club. Declarer took the top spades (throwing a diamond) and then laid down the C A. Bingo! Next case.


© 1996 Richard Pavlicek