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Bidding Is Clue to Winning Play

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred recently in a duplicate game at the Ft. Lauderdale Bridge Club. After West’s one-spade opening was passed around, South was too strong for a balancing bid of one notrump or two diamonds (each of which would be limited to at most 15 points), so he made a takeout double. North responded in his long suit and South continued to two notrump to show 16-18 points. North showed good judgment in raising to game, based on the additional value of his sturdy club suit.

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

Lead: S 6
S A Q 5
H A 8 2
D A Q J 9 6
C 9 4

West led a spade to East’s 10 and South’s queen, and declarer considered his line of play. The bidding clearly indicated that West held most of the outstanding high cards. Conceding a diamond trick to the king would result in only eight tricks (four diamonds, two hearts and two spades), so it was necessary to establish at least one club trick. Further, the club suit itself might provide enough tricks for the contract (four clubs, two hearts, two spades and one diamond).

Therefore, South led the club nine at trick two and West followed small. It was tempting to let this ride for a finesse, but South was certain that West held the ace, and the location of the queen was in doubt. On this basis there was a sure play for the contract: He rose with the king and then ran the diamond 10 to West’s king to establish nine tricks.

Did you spot the error? West could have defeated the contract with a farsighted play. On the club lead he could have taken the ace and continued spades to force out the ace. Declarer could then set up the club suit by finessing into East, but this would give him only eight tricks (three clubs, one diamond, two hearts and two spades). East would return a diamond upon winning the club queen, and declarer could not establish another trick without allowing West to gain the lead.

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek