Completed in Tampa last weekend was the Florida finals of the 1985 Grand National Team Championships. Qualified teams from all over the state gathered to compete in either of two divisions: Flight A (open) or Flight B (less than 500 masterpoints).
The local team of Jeanni St. Jean, Mat De Lieto, Erwin Cutler, Dave Marshall, and Richard Pavlicek Jr. continued their hot streak by winning the Flight B division. They will compete in the national finals to be held in Las Vegas, August 1-3.
The St. Jean team gained heavily on todays deal. Cutler, South, opened one heart and West made a weak jump overcall in spades. Pavlicek Jr., North, decided against an immediate heart raise despite South promising a five-card suit. Instead he made a negative double, suggesting length in both minor suits. This was a flexible move since he could always correct to hearts if his partner bid clubs.
East jumped to four spades and South naturally introduced his second suit. This was good news to North and he pushed on to slam, preferring to play in diamonds (not hearts) since the trump fit was superior and the heart suit would provide discards in the play.
The play presented no problem when West led a spade: jack, ace, ruff. Trumps were drawn in three rounds and declarer threw dummys two clubs on his long hearts making seven.
Of course, an original club lead followed by a heart switch would defeat the slam; but that would require clairvoyance rather than any particular skill.
The opposing team did not locate their excellent diamond fit and played in five hearts, barely making. Notice that it is impossible to make a slam in hearts against any lead with the nasty trump break.
© 1985 Richard Pavlicek