Main     Article 7K83 by Richard Pavlicek    

What If in History?

This deal originated in the 1979 World Championship held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More recently, I used it in my September 2003 bidding poll, which had 1117 entrants from 60 countries. East’s 1 H opening showed 4+ cards (four-card majors), and the problem was what South should do over North’s 3 S. The modern consensus was to bid 3 NT as shown.

In 1979, Paul Soloway held the South hand (playing with Bobby Goldman) and chose to pass 3 S, surely sensible in view of the misfit and the lack of any trick source in notrump. With diamonds 3-3 and both hearts cashing, Goldman came to 10 tricks by ruffing clubs in hand. Alas, this meant a 10-IMP loss when the Italians bidS at the other table after a strange auction that suggested a misunderstanding.

3 NT by South

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

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

2 S
3 S
East
1 H
Pass
Pass
South
2 C
3 D
3 NT

So what if? Suppose the contract is 3 NT, and West leads his partner’s suit. It looks pretty hopeless, but a clever technician like Soloway would cash four rounds of diamonds immediately. East would pitch a club, then Soloway would exit with his last heart for an endplay. East can win two hearts and two clubs, but then must either give dummy three spades or South three clubs — making 3 NT.

But wait! East was none other than Giorgio Belladonna, the master of endplay magic. Like Felix the Cat, he would reach deep into his bag of tricks and pitch the club king on the fourth diamond (a spade also works). Retaining both low clubs, Belladonna could then reach West in clubs to foil the endplay — down one.

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© 2004 Richard Pavlicek