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Cutting the Communication

  by Alan Truscott

November 29, 1991 — New York Times

An established champion and his son take the lead in the Blue Ribbon

A father-and-son combination led into the two final sessions of the Blue Ribbon Pair Championship at the American Contract Bridge League’s Fall Nationals in Indianapolis today. Richard Pavlicek Sr. and Rich Pavlicek Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were a board and a half ahead of their nearest rivals at the end of semifinal play yesterday. The father has won many national titles and may be challenging for world honors next summer, and his 21-year-old son is moving rapidly up the tournament ladder.

The leaders were: In first place, the two Pavliceks with 1257 match points; in second, Edgar Kaplan of New York City and Norman Kay of Narberth, Pa., with 1196 points; in third, Howard Weinstein and Peter Nagy, both of Chicago, with 1180 points; in fourth place, Jim Robison of Los Angeles and Clint Morell of Marlboro, Mass., with 1174 points; in fifth, Mark Tolliver and Marc Zwerling, both of Portland, Ore., with 1166 points; and in sixth, Jim Hall of Minneapolis and Dick Melson of Chicago, with 1165 points.

Zia Mahmood of New York City, who had won the first two major events, failed to qualify for the Blue Ribbon final, ending his dream of a tournament sweep.

On the diagrammed deal from the Blue Ribbon the younger Pavlicek sat West, and found himself defending three notrump after he had opened with one club. South had made an interesting decision by spurning a known 5-4 heart fit in favor of notrump. Four hearts would have been hopeless, but three notrump from the South side had chances.

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

Lead: S 4
S Q J 9
H A Q 7 4 2
D Q 6
C A Q 7

The defense took the top spades and led a third round, establishing a winner for West. Declarer knew that the missing kings were on his left, so he should have put pressure on West by running all his heart tricks. That would have prepared for an endplay and brought home the contract. Instead declarer crossed to the heart king, collecting West’s jack and East’s nine. He then led a club to the seven, but was in trouble when the last spade was led. When he gave up a diamond from hand, West solved the problem.

The only possible reason for East to play the heart nine was that he was short in the suit.* So West read South’s hand exactly and led the diamond king, collecting the queen and cutting declarer’s communication. If West had passively returned his remaining heart, he would have been squeezed in the minor suits by the run of the hearts.

*An effective practice in giving count with an even number of cards is to play the second-highest from four; hence the appearance of the highest card must indicate a doubleton or six. -RP

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© 1991 Alan Truscott