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The Dummy Reversal

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred several months ago in a local club game. The bidding is shown as it happened at one table.

North-South were playing weak two-bids (strong two-bids are becoming obsolete at duplicate bridge). Therefore, South had to open two clubs, strong and artificial, to which North responded two diamonds, negative (0-7 points). South then showed his real suit and North happily raised. The next two bids were ace-showing (trying for slam), and South took the final plunge into six hearts.

Of the 13 times this deal was played only seven pairs managed to reach the excellent six-heart contract (one pair bid seven hearts — oops!). And of those seven pairs only two were successful.

6 H South
None Vul
S J 8 2
H J 9 8 7
D A 7 4 3
C 9 2


2 D
3 H
4 D

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

Lead: D K
S A 7 5
H A K Q 10 3
D 2
C A K Q 3

After the obvious lead of the diamond king, the ace was won in dummy. The unsuccessful declarers sooner or later tried to cash three top clubs, intending to discard a spade so that a spade could be ruffed in dummy. When the third club was ruffed, it was all over. Dummy could overruff, of course, but there was nothing declarer could do to avoid losing two spade tricks.

The successful declarers were made of sterner stuff. They recognized the potential of a “dummy reversal” — establishing the dummy’s hand by ruffing losers in declarer’s hand.

After winning the diamond ace, a diamond was ruffed high in the South hand. Two top clubs were cashed (this could have been postponed as the cards lie, but was technically correct), followed by a low trump to dummy and another diamond ruff high. The heart 10 was overtaken by dummy’s jack and the last diamond was ruffed by South. Dummy was entered by ruffing South’s small club and the last enemy trump was drawn. One of dummy’s spade losers could then be discarded on South’s high club. That came to 12 tricks.

Notice that the recommended line required that only two clubs be cashed instead of three — a fact which proved to be the winning edge.

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© 1984 Richard Pavlicek