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Let Them Eat Clubs!

I was West on this deal from a recent IMP match. After South’s 1 H opening, I overcalled 1 S mainly as a lead-director, comforted by the vulnerability. Alas, its only effect was to steer the opponents away from a doomed 3 NT into a successful 4 H. North’s negative double showed both minors, and the subsequent 2 S was an all-purpose cue-bid asking for more information. Oh well; at least I told myself what to lead.

4 H by South

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

West

1 S
Pass
Pass
North

Dbl
2 S
4 H
East

Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 H
2 H
3 H

Declarer won the S A and immediately cashed three rounds of clubs to pitch a spade. He then pursued my title line and led a fourth club to pitch his last spade; East pitched a diamond and I ruffed. It was evident that no spades were cashing, so I switched to a diamond; but declarer took the D A and led the last club to pitch his diamond. Well played!

The club leads were powerful fodder, as it makes no difference who ruffs either one. If one defender ruffs twice, the H A drops his honor and only one more trump is lost. If each defender ruffs once, the missing honors fall together. Either way, declarer loses just three trump tricks and makes the contract.

Do you see how 4 H can be defeated? It takes an original diamond lead, which removes a crucial entry to dummy, thus preventing the double ditch on clubs. Indeed, declarer might even go down three by ducking the lead and later finessing the D J in desperation. Sigh. I should have known that being dealt a lead like K-Q-J was too good to be true.

I noticed another curious fact about this deal, and it’s right out of Ripley: With best defense, the only game North-South can make is in spades, believe it or not. Declarer has six top tricks and four more are available on a crossruff, even after a trump lead. Wow. This doesn’t say much for my 1 S bid either — 800 the hard way if South only knew to pass the negative double. Crazy game, bridge.

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© 2004 Richard Pavlicek