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Russell Team Wins Zonal Match

  by Richard Pavlicek

The zonal final of the Grand National Team Championship was held at the Sheraton Bal Harbour on June 16. Two strong teams met in a head-on match of 64 deals to determine the southeastern representative for the national final to be held in Washington, D.C. next month.

The Florida team of Cliff Russell (captain), Robert Levin, Peter Weichsel, Alan Sontag, and this writer scored a 48-IMP victory over the Louisiana team of Jack LaNoue (captain), Sidney Lazard, Nancy Alpaugh, Harold Guiver, Frank Hoadley, and John Onstott.

Aggressive bidding and sound technique showed a profit for Florida on today’s deal, declared by Cliff Russell of Miami.

5 D× South
None Vul
S A 10 8 5 4
H 5 2
D A J 9 7 2
C 3

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

Lead: C J
S 9 3 2
H J 7 4
D K Q 10 8 4
C 7 5

After North’s light one-spade opening and East’s takeout double, Russell (South) joined the party by introducing his diamond suit. This prompted North to take an advance sacrifice in five diamonds, leaving East with a tough decision to make at the five level.

Five diamonds doubled is not a very glamorous contract, and obviously could not be made; but Russell made the most of his meager assets. The defenders cashed their three top tricks and exited with a club, dummy ruffing. Apparently, declarer must still lose two spade tricks — but wait!

Russell cashed the spade ace, drew two rounds of trumps, ruffed his last heart, and then exited with a spade. After winning the spade king, East had to concede a ruff and discard, so Russell escaped for minus 300 (down two doubled).

His teammates at the other table scored plus 450 (four hearts making five), so the net gain was 150 points or four IMPs. Not much, it is true; but in a hard-fought match, every little tidbit helps.

Did you notice that East could have been the hero? He could have unblocked his spade king under the ace (or when declarer led the second diamond) to avoid the endplay. Would you have been so smart?

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© 1984 Richard Pavlicek