Main     Article 7K66 by Richard Pavlicek    

Foresight on Defense

Sadly, in March the bridge world lost one of its great icons in Bill Root, my longtime friend and regular partner in major events from 1977-96. Almost every bridge player knew about Mr. Root through his teaching, or his bridge books, or his popular cruises; but I had the pleasure of witnessing his skills firsthand at the card table. Many times over the years, I marveled at his foresight and asked myself: Would I have found that play? At least, if I can answer yes today, it is likely that his influence was a factor.

This deal from the Toronto Nationals in 1992 is a case in point. Bill was West and I was East, and our opponents bid routinely to game as shown.

4 H by South

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

West

Pass
Pass
North

2 C
4 H
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 NT
2 H

Bill led the C K to declarer’s ace as I played the seven (our practice was to show count in this situation). Two rounds of trumps revealed the 4-1 break as I pitched a club. Declarer next led a low spade to Bill’s blank ace and I played the eight (also count). As West, what would you do now?

Almost in straight tempo, Bill shifted to a diamond. Beautiful! This was essential to defeat the contract. If he had cashed his club trick as most defenders would (or led a heart), declarer could succeed by an eventual endplay against me. The thoughtful diamond shift allowed Bill to regain the lead in clubs to lead a second diamond to foil any attempt by declarer. Now that’s what I call a great partner.

[Addendum: This deal was incorporated with five others in the quiz Root for the Home Team.]

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek