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Masterful Technique

  by Astri Delafield

January, 1981 — Palm Beach Illustrated Magazine

When I get into bridge trouble, I turn to the Gold Coast’s own resident expert, Richard Pavlicek. Not only is he a fine player and teacher, but he’s a master encyclopedist and an innovative writer.

I asked Mr. Pavlicek how the following deal should be bid and played [using 16-18 point notrump openings]. His answer was a startling revelation of masterful technique; it should enlighten the amateur and be an excellent review for the sophisticated player.

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

Lead: C 8
S Q 10 2
H K Q 2
D K 7 3
C A K J 5

Mr. Pavlicek writes: “North is too weak for one notrump (16-18) so he starts with one diamond. South has a textbook three-notrump response (16-18, or 17-18 as some play). North now knows that slam is possible (15 + 18 = 33) so he raises to four notrump, which is not Blackwood but asks South to bid six notrump with a maximum or pass with a minimum. On the top of his range, South bids the slam.

“West leads a club so as not to give anything away, and declarer has 10 top tricks. Proper play is to try spades first (maybe something good will happen) so win the club queen and lead a low spade to the 10, losing to the jack. Win the club return, cash the diamond king and try the diamond finesse. Finally something works. Next cash the spade ace (not the diamond ace) and all the top clubs and hearts ending in hand. West cannot keep both the spade king and his diamond stopper — he is squeezed — so declarer wins the rest. Making six notrump.”

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© 1981 Astri Delafield