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Throw-In Play

  by Richard Pavlicek

A special two-session Swiss team game was held last Sunday at the Tamarac Bridge Club, and it attracted some good competition. The Seamon family of Miami — William, Rita and daughter Janice — joined forces with David Strasberg of Davie to top the field. Today’s deal contributed to their win.

4 H South
Both Vul
S Q J 8
H 10 8 6 5 2
C A K Q 10


2 D
3 C
3 NT

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

Lead: D K
S A 6 3
H A 7 4
D A 9 6
C J 7 5 3

Strasberg, South, opened one notrump to show 12-14 points (known as the “weak notrump”) and Janice Seamon responded two diamonds as a “Jacoby transfer bid.” This showed at least five hearts and South dutifully completed the transfer.

The rest of the bidding was natural: North showed her club suit; South bided time with an ambiguous diamond bid; North suggested notrump; and South corrected to hearts. All this may appear strange, but standard bidders should get to the same contract (although with North declarer) by the sequence: 1 C 1 H; 1 NT 3 C; 3 HH.

West led the diamond king, taken by the ace, and declarer immediately ducked a heart to West’s jack. Not cashing the trump ace was good technique to retain control of the suit. West returned a high diamond, ruffed in dummy, and the spade queen was led for a successful finesse. A trump was led to the ace, revealing the bad break, and declarer paused to consider his next move.

With three certain trump losers the only chance to succeed was to avoid a spade loser, and this could be done only with a throw-in play (except for the remote possibility of a singleton spade king).

Accordingly, declarer ruffed his last diamond in dummy. This deliberate weakening of his trump holding was necessary to remove East’s potential exit card. Next the club winners were cashed until East ruffed. As hoped, East held no more diamonds and the eventual spade return gave declarer his contract. Note that East could have defeated the contract by covering the spade queen with the king when it was led earlier.

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek