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Fateful Deal Decides Match

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred in the Spingold Knockout Teams during the Summer North American Championships in Las Vegas. I know this too well, as it was one of the critical deals in a match that my team narrowly lost.

Our teammates held the East-West cards on the bidding shown. After South’s takeout double, West jumped to three diamonds as a preemptive raise and North entered the auction with a responsive double — a modern gadget which shows equal support for the unbid suits (especially the majors). East jumped to five diamonds to continue the defensive barrage, and South took a stab at six hearts. West doubled, not just because he held five trumps, but his partner had opened the bidding and usually would provide a trick or two.

6 H× South
None Vul
S 9 6 5 4
H Q J 7 3
C 9 6 4
3 D
1 D
5 D
6 H
S 10
H 10 8 6 5 4
D 10 8 6 3 2
C J 5
TableS Q J 8 3 2
D K Q 9 7 5 4
C K 3

Lead: D 3
S A K 7
H A K 9 2
C A Q 10 8 7 2

Despite the five-zero trump break, the contract could not be defeated. West led a diamond and South chose to ruff in hand (retaining dummy’s ace). Four rounds of trumps were led (South discarding a spade) to exhaust the suit except for West’s long trump, then the club queen was finessed. When this held and clubs divided two-two, declarer continued to lead good clubs until West ruffed with his only trick. Making six hearts doubled gave the opposing team a fantastic score of 1210.

In the other room I held the North cards and my partner, Bill Root of Boca Raton, also doubled one diamond; but our West opponent made an incredible leap to five diamonds. This bold bid (insane might be a better description) was devastating. There was no way to discover our heart fit, and we elected to double five diamonds for a sure profit of 300, rather than speculate on six clubs (which makes).

The net result of this deal was a loss of 14 IMPs and we lost the 64-deal match by just 10 IMPs. It still hurts when I think about it.

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek