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The Lowly Deuce

  by Richard Pavlicek

Every bridge player is familiar with the technique of suit establishment. For example, holding A-K-6-5-4 opposite 3-2, it is often possible to promote an additional winner (perhaps two if the enemy cards divide three-three). Even a holding as weak as 8-7-6-5 opposite 4-3-2 has the potential of providing a trick after three rounds have been played. But who ever heard of promoting a trick with 3-2 doubleton opposite a singleton four?

Helen Shanbrom of Tamarac managed this feat on today’s deal — not legitimately of course, but with a little help from her opponents. North’s one-diamond opening was strange (one spade is recommended but then I would have no story) and Shanbrom, South, responded one spade. North offered a jump raise and South continued to game.

4 S South
Both Vul
S K 9 8 5 4
H A 10
D A K 10 7 6
C 4

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

Lead: C K
S A J 7 3
H 3 2
D Q J 9 5 4
C 3 2

West led the club king, South contributing the three (aesthetically correct); then West shifted to a heart, taken by dummy’s ace. Declarer’s first hurdle was the trump suit. The normal play with nine trumps is to cash the ace and king; but with a singleton club in dummy (and knowing that one opponent held a singleton or void in diamonds), declarer elected to cash the king and finesse the jack. This reasoning has no mathematical basis; however, it is amazing how often it holds true with hand-dealt cards. In any event it worked, so who can argue?

Declarer continued by leading all of dummy’s trumps (throwing a heart) and then five rounds of diamonds, ending in the South hand. This reduced everyone to one card. East and West both reasoned that South’s last card would be a heart since a club could have been ruffed in dummy earlier. (Of course this was faulty reasoning because dummy held the longer trumps and a ruff therein would not have helped declarer.)

With all the enemy clubs discarded, South won the last trick with the deuce and earned an absolute top score.

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek