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Amazing Grace

Most FLBC players will remember Gracie Gabbai, a charming lady and a clever player. I had the pleasure of partnering her in various events and was amazed at her “table feel” — the ability to make the right decisions at the right time. She had a great flair for the game.

This deal is from a tournament about 10 years ago. Gabbai, South, playing with Bernie Chazen of Tamarac, demonstrated perfect technique to earn a top score and win the event.

3 NT by South

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

West

Pass
North

3 NT
East

All Pass
South
1 NT

West led the C 4, which gave Gabbai eight sure tricks — four clubs (winning C 10 first), three spades and one diamond — and she set about to establish a ninth by leading a heart. West won the H K and returned a club to dummy’s queen, then the H J was led to the ace.

West was now aware of the futility in clubs so he shifted to a diamond to East’s jack. Gabbai could win this and make her contract, but that would be lazy. With nine tricks you look for 10; with 10 look for 11, etc. The spade suit was the only chance for more, and a squeeze was necessary if that suit did not break 3-3.

Squeeze plays usually require that declarer can win all but one of the remaining tricks, so Gabbai ducked the first diamond lead.

East continued with the D K, won by the ace. Gabbai then unblocked the C K and returned to her hand with a heart to cash the C A. East was forced to abandon his spade stopper to keep the D Q, and declarer won the rest of the tricks.

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© 1997 Richard Pavlicek