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A Crowning Achievement

  by Alan Truscott

October 28, 1987 — New York Times

Honored high school senior has a name that’s familiar

For the last 14 years the American Contract Bridge League has named a King (or Queen) of Bridge. The title goes to the high school senior in North America with the best tournament record, and carries with it a scholarship that goes to an outstanding student in the winner’s graduating class.

Two of the previous winners, Jeff Meckstroth and Robert Levin, went on to win world titles.

The 1987 winner is Richard Pavlicek Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., whose name is well known. His father is a player-writer who has won a string of major national team titles in the past five years.

The two Richard Pavliceks were in partnership on the diagrammed deal from a regional tournament in Miami Beach. The younger Rich, sitting South, ventured an overcall of four diamonds after an eccentric three-spade bid by East created a problem for him. He felt nervous when he was doubled, but his father produced a very helpful dummy.

4 D× SouthS 3
H Q 6 2
D 8 7 5 3
C A J 9 6 5
Both VulWest


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

Lead: S 4
S A Q 5
H J 9 8 5
D A K J 4 2
C 2

Even so, it appears that the bad trump break dooms declarer to lose two tricks in each red suit. When a spade was led to the king and ace, Rich cashed the diamond ace and discovered, without being surprised, that the trumps were all on his left.

He cashed the spade queen, discarding a heart from the dummy, and led a heart to the queen. East won with the king and returned the suit. West won with the ten and shifted to the club king.

Declarer won with the ace, and took a club ruff, a heart ruff, a club ruff and a spade ruff to produce a three-card ending. A club was led and Rich discarded his last heart and made his doubled contract. West had to ruff and lead from the diamond queen at the 12th trick.

There was an effective defense, but it was not easy to find. If West had put up the heart ace at the fourth trick and played his remaining spade, his partner would have been able to play a fourth round of spades later to frustrate the impending endplay.

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© 1987 Alan Truscott