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Pavlicek Wins Vanderbilt

March, 1983 — Fort Lauderdale News & Sun-Sentinel

Fort Lauderdale couldn’t lose in last week’s final round for the coveted Vanderbilt Trophy at the Spring North American Championships in Honolulu; newcomer Fred Hamilton was on one team, while long-time resident Richard Pavlicek was on the other. Pavlicek’s team included Bill Root of Boca Raton, Edgar Kaplan of New York City and Norman Kay of Narberth, Pa. After taking an early lead, they increased it steadily to win by 50 IMPs.

This, in addition to winning the Reisinger Cup at last fall’s Nationals, makes them the most formidable foursome in the bridge world — rather appropriate since Kaplan is editor and publisher of The Bridge World magazine. Here is a deal that contributed to their win.

5 S by South

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

West

Dbl
Pass
5 H
All Pass
North
Pass
3 S
Pass
Pass
East
Pass
4 H
Dbl
Pass
South
1 S
4 S
Pass
5 S

Pavlicek, South, opened one spade, and a lively auction ensued. West made a light takeout double, Root jumped to three spades, and East competed to four hearts. Pavlicek rejected any thoughts of slam (their jump raise was weak over a double) and signed off in four spades. This was doubled by East; but West, having so little defensive strength, removed it to five hearts (obviously a wise decision). When this came around to Pavlicek, he persisted to five spades, and the opponents went quietly.

West led a heart, and East won the ace and continued with the queen to South’s king. The problem, of course, was to avoid the loss of two diamond tricks. One possibility was to attempt to “strip” the hand by ruffing out the club suit, and eventually finessing a diamond into West to force a diamond return, thus increasing the chances of losing only one diamond trick. Pavlicek correctly decided this would not work; with West almost surely void in spades, there were insufficient entries to ruff out the clubs and return to dummy to lead a diamond. Therefore, Pavlicek embarked on a different campaign.

When in Doubt, Lead Trumps

Pavlicek led six rounds of trumps, which were too much for West to bear. Having no definite clue as to the actual distribution, West discarded down to two diamonds and three clubs, after which it was an easy matter for Pavlicek to concede a diamond trick to establish his remaining diamond. Note that Pavlicek could always make the contract by guessing the diamond situation (low to the jack then dropping East’s queen) even if West kept three diamonds. Leading trumps merely increased his chances, eventually obviating the need to guess.

Bringing home five spades was worth 11 IMPs, since the identical contract was defeated at the other table. The other declarer attempted the ill-fated plan of ruffing out the club suit. When it became apparent this would not succeed, he tried a diamond to the eight — down one.

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© 1983 Charles H. Whitebrook