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Stop! Thief!

January, 1979 — Tampa Tribune

You’re playing in the Master’s Pairs in Sarasota against two nondescript opponents. Vulnerable against not, you hear partner open two hearts (a weak two-bid) as dealer, and your right-hand opponent overcalls three diamonds. You hold:

H J 7
D Q 6 3
C A K Q J 10 8 4

What is your call?

“Stop! Thief!” I looked around expecting to see some juvenile delinquent making off with a lady’s purse. However, the crime I witnessed was much more heinous than that.

Richard Pavlicek of Fort Lauderdale held the above hand and calmly bid three notrump. This was passed out. Left-hand opponent led the nine of diamonds, and this was the layout:

3 NT South

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


All Pass
2 H
3 D
3 NT

You don’t have to be brilliant to see that East should win the diamond and shift to spades. Such play would defeat the contract at least six tricks vulnerable. However, East could not see his partner’s hand, and with the heart ace as a re-entry, he routinely established his diamond suit. This allowed Pavlicek to reel off his clubs and escape for down one.

East-West were disappointed not to have run their spade tricks, but they still defeated Pavlicek in his egregious contract and were quite content — never realizing they were cold for six spades.

If you’re Richard Pavlicek, I guess crime does pay. TopMain

© 1979 Tampa Tribune