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Fateful Discard

In December it was nice to get away to Phoenix for the Nationals, not just for bridge but as a family get-together with our son Rich (now living in San Mateo, CA). On this deal from the finals of the Reisinger Teams, I was West and Rich was East (that’s strange since I live in the East, and Rich in the West, but maybe it gave us an edge by confusing our opponents).

My jump raise to 3 D was weak (inverted minors) though ineffectual as our opponents easily reached the normal game in hearts. I led the D 3 (lowest from an odd number) to the queen and ace, and declarer considered his options.

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

West
Pass
3 D
North
Pass
4 H
East
1 D
All Pass
South
1 H

Tempted by the chance of a quick discard, declarer immediately led three rounds of spades, pitching the D J as I ruffed with the H 5. It was obvious we had no diamond trick coming, so I shifted to a club, ducked to the queen. Rich next led his last spade (a slight error as declarer could succeed at double-dummy, while a club return would seal his fate) forcing South to ruff high; then the C J was finessed to lead a heart to the queen, dropping my jack. Rich now had to make a second trump trick with his nine; down one.

Declarer was enamored by the discard opportunity and in pursuing it opened a floodgate for his own demise. Since a 3-3 spade break is against the odds, proper technique is to resign yourself to a diamond loser: Win the second diamond (holding up is slightly better); finesse clubs twice, and use dummy’s entries to lead toward the H K-Q twice. Only a heart, diamond and club need be lost.

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek