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Sound Technique

  by Richard Pavlicek

Bill Passell of Coral Springs achieved a milestone in bridge that is unimaginable to the average player, earning his 10,000th masterpoint earlier in this year. Masterpoints are attained by winning or placing high in tournaments sanctioned by the American Contract Bridge League and vary according to the level of the event.

To appreciate the enormity of this total, consider that a victory in a typical club game is worth less than one masterpoint, and a victory in the highest rated national event is worth 150 masterpoints. To attain the rank of Life Master, the highest player classification in the A.C.B.L., a player must win 300 masterpoints. Ten thousand is something else!

Passell was South on today’s deal which occurred last February in the Mexican Nationals in Acapulco. After his hefty one-spade opening, the nonvulnerable opponents put up a smoke screen in clubs in an attempt to steal the contract. When South doubled, North retreated to five spades — a questionable action, giving up a bird in the hand (+500 for down three) in the hopes of making a vulnerable five spades (+650). But North was vindicated by Passell’s accurate play.

5 S South
N-S Vul
S 9 7 4
H A 9 8 6
D 9 6 5 3
C 8 2

3 C

5 S

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

Lead: C K
S A K Q 10 5 2
H K J 3
D A K 8
C 3


South ruffed the second club lead and drew three rounds of trumps ending in dummy. Not privileged to seeing all four hands, declarer continued with a low heart to the jack. This was not a success as West won the queen and continued with another club.

It now looked as if declarer would fail since the heart suit does not come home to provide a discard for South’s diamond loser. But wait. Before testing the hearts South led his last trump — a routine play for an expert, but frequently overlooked by the average player. East could not bear the pressure; he was the helpless victim of a squeeze. Whichever red suit he discarded gave declarer his 11th trick.

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek