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Inspired Defense Dooms Contract

  by Alan Truscott

November 23, 1991 — New York Times

Seven major titles at stake as the Fall Nationals begin

Indianapolis — The Fall National Championships of the American Contract Bridge League began here this afternoon. More than 4,000 players will fight for seven major titles and a host of minor ones during 10 days of play. The climax will be the Reisinger Board-a-Match Teams, which is generally considered the most grueling event in the tournament calendar.

The defending champions are Richard Pavlicek of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Bill Root, Brian Glubok, Edgar Kaplan, all of Manhattan; and Norman Kay of Narberth, Pa. Their victory in San Francisco a year ago made them candidates to represent the United States in the 1992 World Team Olympiad next August in Salsomaggiore, Italy. For the playoffs in May they have added Mike Passell of Dallas.

Aggressive bidding and inspired defense by Pavlicek helped his team win the diagrammed deal in San Francisco. His vulnerable two-club overcall as East, after both opponents had bid, was a venture influenced by the scoring. The chance that he could be penalized was not great, since a double by South, per North-South agreement (as many experts play) would show three-card support for North’s suit.

3 H SouthS A J 10 8
H 6 5
D Q 10 4 3
C A 6 5
Both VulWest

3 C

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

Lead: C 7
S K 9 4
H K J 10 7 4 2
D A 8
C J 2

Since Root as West was able to raise clubs, South was pushed to three hearts. The opening club lead was won with dummy’s ace, and a heart was led to East’s ace. Routine defense was now due to give the defense four tricks, two in trumps and one in each minor suit, since the potential spade loser disappears on the diamond queen.

But Pavlicek is not a routine defender, and he shifted to the spade deuce. Dummy’s eight won, and declarer tried to draw trumps by winning the king and leading the ten. West took the queen and led a club, allowing East to take his king and return a spade for West to ruff. When a third club was led, declarer was doomed to lose a diamond eventually for down one, since there was no entry to dummy to score the spade ace.

In the replay, a helpful diamond lead allowed South to score 170 in a heart part-score.

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© 1991 Alan Truscott