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Expert Planning

Richard Pavlicek Sr. showed the advantage of planning on this deal from an IMP match on OKbridge

October, 1997 — Thomas’s Bridge Fantasia (bridge.thomasoandrews.com)

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

West

Pass
4 S
Dbl
North

2 H
Pass
All Pass
East

3 S
Pass
South
1 H
4 H
5 H

Five hearts looks like smooth sailing for declarer if trumps split 2-2 or East has the jack, but Pavlicek considered another danger as well — a bad diamond split.

West led a spade, which Pavlicek won in hand. He led a club to dummy and ruffed a club, then ruffed a spade and ruffed another club. Both defenders followed to the club plays. Pavlicek then exited with the trump queen, hoping to pin a stiff jack. East won the H K (West following low) and returned a diamond, which Pavlicek won in hand.

Pavlicek again exited in hearts, and was fortunate enough to find the suit splitting 2-2. West, who won the second trump, exited in spades, which Pavlicek ruffed in hand. When he led his last trump, West, who was guarding the long club and also started with four diamonds, got squeezed.

The full deal:

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

Note that Pavlicek needed the 2-2 split in trumps or for one opponent to hold the stiff jack. Also, this line provided almost no added risk. The biggest risk is that some trump promotion can occur, but it is not hard to see that that is unlikely on the bidding.

Also, notice that Pavlicek cannot succeed if he starts with hearts immediately, even with the friendly trump split. Whoever wins the first trump can force him to ruff a spade immediately, leaving him only one club ruff, which allows East to retain the C J.

Also, note that on winning the second trump trick, West was caught in an interesting bind:

S
H
D K 9 6
C 9 7
S 9
H
D J 10 8
C K
TableS K 10 8 7 5
H
D
C
S
H 10 8
D Q 4 3
C

If dummy’s second club were instead a worthless spade, West could break up the squeeze by leading the C K. The second club becomes a secondary threat — if West leads his club, the long club in dummy is set up. Declarer could not set up this natural trick for himself, because he has only one entry remaining.

The diamond situation is also interesting, because if West leads a diamond, declarer can claim immediately. If West leads a low diamond, declarer can insert the nine, and if East follows, the suit splits; while if East does not follow, the nine wins. If West leads a high diamond, declarer plays low from dummy, and again is either rewarded with an even split or a marked finesse.

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© 1997 Thomas Andrews