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Diamond Play Does Not Dazzle

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred in a recent rubber bridge game. After North’s one-club opening bid, South responded in his powerful suit and North rebid one notrump to indicate a minimum balanced hand. South correctly reasoned that slam was probable.

The jump to four clubs was the Gerber convention to ask for aces. It is customary to use this ace-asking method over notrump bids. (The Blackwood four-notrump bid applies only over suit bids.) North responded four hearts (one ace) and South was obliged to sign off in game since two aces were missing.

5 D South
E-W Vul
S K 7 5
H A J 8
D 9 7 2
C K Q 10 4

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

Lead: S Q
S 8
H Q 9 2
D A K Q J 10 6 4 3
C 3

West led the spade queen and dummy’s king was captured with the ace. South ruffed the next spade lead and drew the outstanding trumps in two rounds. Before tackling the heart suit, declarer led his singleton club: six, king, ace; and East forced South to ruff another spade. Declarer crossed to dummy with a trump to cash the club queen and ruff a club, hoping the jack might appear. This proved fruitless so declarer eventually had to try the heart finesse — down one.

Declarer did not win any medals in the play. His only consolation was the small profit obtained from his 150 honors. Perhaps he was so mesmerized by these “honors” that he overlooked the surefire line of play to make his contract.

After ruffing the second spade, he should have drawn trumps with the ace and nine (ending in dummy) in order to ruff the remaining spade. This simple maneuver would have eliminated the avenue of exit, and East would be endplayed when he won the club ace. Any return by East would give declarer his contract. Note that East could not gain by ducking the club king, as South would then avoid a club loser and the contract is easily made by conceding a heart trick to the king.

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek