Last Sunday the Ft. Lauderdale Bridge Club hosted a qualifying round for the Grand National Teams, an annual event conducted by the American Contract Bridge League. Players that finished in the top 35 percent (of the entered teams) earned eligibility for the Florida final to be held in Tampa in May. The winning team from Tampa will advance (with expenses paid) to Toronto in July to compete against other finalists for the title. So, in theory at least, any team could advance from the grass-roots level to a national championship.
Jim and Marietta Beery of Lauderhill (teamed with this writer and son, Richie) led the qualifiers with a record of six wins and no losses. I felt sure we had lost one match when Richie overbid on a hand, got doubled and went for a telephone number. But Jim and Marietta pulled out the match by reaching a slam on todays deal that was not bid by the opposing team.
Marietta, South, opened one diamond and Jim, North, responded in his moth-eaten heart suit. When South rebid two clubs, North offered some encouragement with a raise to three. Souths three-spade bid showed the ace (it could not be a real suit from her failure to bid one spade over one heart) and North leaped to game in clubs. (No one ever accused Jim of being a shy bidder.) This jump bid surely indicated good trumps, so South used excellent judgment in bidding the slam.
Declarer made short work of the play when West led the heart king and continued the suit, South ruffing. A club was led to dummys jack to ruff another heart with the club king; then the club 10 was overtaken with dummys queen to draw all of Wests trumps and claim the rest.
A more accurate defense (e.g., a heart lead then a shift to another suit) would have defeated the slam because of the cruel distribution of the minor suits. But the contract was an excellent one the reward was just.
© 1986 Richard Pavlicek