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Two 4-1 Breaks

  by Richard Pavlicek

This deal is from an online IMP game. After South’s 1 S opening, North was obliged to bid 1 NT since he lacked the values for a two-over-one response. South had a borderline jump shift but chose to bid only 2 H because of the anemic texture in his suits. North raised to game with his excellent playing potential.

4 H South
E-W Vul
S 9 3
H Q J 10 4
D A 10 9 6 5 3 2


1 NT
4 H
1 S
2 H
S J 8 6 5
H 9
D Q J 7 4
C A 10 4 3
TableS Q 10
H A 8 7 6
D 8
C J 9 8 7 5 2

Lead: D Q
S A K 7 4 2
H K 5 3 2
C K Q 6

West had no knowledge of dummy’s long diamonds and chose to lead the D Q. Declarer won the king and led the H 2 to dummy’s queen as East ducked, then the H 4 back to the king, learning the bad news. The C K was led, covered and ruffed, then declarer tried to cash the D A. Oops. East ruffed with the H 8 (South could not overruff) and cashed the H A leaving declarer in a hopeless predicament — down two.

Declarer violated an important principle: If there is no clear-cut path to making your contract, you should work on your side suit before drawing trumps. After the H Q won, declarer should next lead the D A; East ruffs and South overruffs; then a heart is led to the jack and ace. East’s best return is a club to the king and ace, but declarer does not ruff in dummy. No matter what West returns, the diamonds can be set up, losing one more trick. Lay out a deck of cards and try it — it’s a good exercise in suit establishment.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek