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Beating the Unbeatable

  by Irwin Fisher

December, 1977 — Florida Bridge News

The following deal created quite a sensation in last month’s Reisinger Board-a-Match Teams. While most North-South pairs played in three notrump, the diagrammed auction occurred at one table to reach the Moysian fit in spades. Strange bidding, but perhaps the pair, who will remain nameless, was trying to create a swing. An extra ruffing trick might win the board 450 to 430, or 480 to 460.

On this occasion, however, the friendly spade lie offered 13 top tricks in notrump or spades, or even clubs for that matter, in the form of four spades, three hearts, one diamond and five clubs. No ruffs are needed. Just finesse spades twice and cash winners.

4 S SouthS 10 9 8
H A 4
D A J 2
C K Q J 5 3
E-W VulWest


2 C
3 C
3 S

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

Lead: D 5
S A Q 3 2
H K Q 7 3
D 8 6 4
C A 7

Enter Bill Root (West) of Boca Raton and Richard Pavlicek (East) of Fort Lauderdale. Incredible as it may seem, they managed to defeat four spades against a competent declarer. How could an expert South possibly lose four tricks? Stay tuned.

Root led the five of diamonds. Declarer was not privy to the lucky spade lie, so he ducked. Pavlicek won with the ten and returned the king to dummy’s ace. Declarer then cashed three top hearts to get rid of dummy’s last diamond.

Next declarer took the club ace and king before leading the ten of spades from dummy. Pavlicek covered with the king, and the ace won. Now declarer tried to ruff a diamond, but Pavlicek overruffed with the jack of spades to reach this ending:

S trumpS 9
C Q J 5
E-W to win 2 tricks
S 6 5
D 9 7
Table S 7
H 8
C 10 9

East leads
S Q 3 2
H 7

Pavlicek now made the key play to return a heart, forcing dummy to ruff as Root pitched a diamond. The forced club lead was then ruffed by South and overruffed by Root, who returned his last diamond, allowing Pavlicek to uppercut with the spade seven. Root’s spade six was then high for the last trick.

There you have it, folks. Four tricks from nowhere. Down one.

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© 1977 Irwin Fisher