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One IMP the Hard Way

  by Alan Truscott

August 1983 — New York Times

Pavlicek team loses bid to win third great victory

An unusual triple victory was in prospect at the recent Summer Nationals in New Orleans, but proved not to be in the cards. The East Coast foursome of Richard Pavlicek, Fort Lauderdale FL; Bill Root, Boca Raton FL; Edgar Kaplan, New York City; and Norman Kay, Narberth PA, had already won the Reisinger Teams last December and the Vanderbilt Teams in March.

They had thus won two of the four events that qualify for playoffs that determine the 1984 United States World Championship team.

They had a chance to win a third — the Spingold Teams — but were ousted in the semifinal by the eventual winners, a Texas group headed by Malcolm Brachman.

Elegance in Defeat

In losing to Brachman, Pavlicek demonstrated some elegant cardplay on the quiet deal shown in the diagram. After opening one heart as South, he landed in two clubs, and West led the club jack. This was a good move, aimed at cutting down the probable heart ruffs in dummy.

2 C SouthS A 10 9 6
D K 9 8 4 3 2
C 8 6 5
None VulWest


1 S

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

Lead: C J
S 4 3
H A Q 6 3 2
D Q 6
C A K 9 3

Pavlicek won with the club ace and led the diamond queen. West took the ace and shifted to the spade jack. Dummy’s ace won, and the ten was led to East’s queen.

A low trump lead was taken by the king, and a heart was ruffed with dummy’s remaining trump. The diamond king was cashed, and a diamond was ruffed. West overruffed, leaving this position:

C trumpS 9 6
D 9 8 4
win 3/5
H K 10 9 8 7
Table S K 8 2

West leads
H A Q 6 3
C 9

West was now endplayed and forced to lead a heart into the A-Q. Pavlicek took his two heart tricks, as East refused to ruff with the master trump to avoid endplaying himself. But the reprieve was short-lived, for when Pavlicek exited with his last trump, West was still endplayed: He had to concede the last trick to the spade nine in dummy, giving declarer his contract.

In the replay, West played in two hearts and failed by a trick, so Pavlicek had won a single international match point — the hard way.

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© 1983 Alan Truscott