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World Champion New ACBL Prez

  by Richard Pavlicek

It is rare when the top echelons in bridge-playing talent and administrative ability come together; but that is the case for the American Contract Bridge League in 1987. Its new President is Robert Wolff of Dallas, Texas, whose bridge biography could fill this entire column — and then some. I’ll suffice it to say that he is one of the world’s foremost players and a multiple World Champion. In recent years he has directed his efforts to develop new ideas to improve the game, not just for the better players, but for all concerned — an ability that is sure to benefit the A.C.B.L.

Today’s deal occurred in the 1986 World Open Pair Championships in Bal Harbour. Wolff, South, became declarer in four spades, which was inauspiciously doubled by East. South won the opening heart lead and crossed to dummy with a diamond to lead the club jack: queen, king, ace. A trump shift now would have foiled Wolff’s best efforts; but West tried to cash a heart trick, ruffed by South.

4 S× South
None Vul
S 8 7
H 7 6 5 4 3
D A K Q 9 3
2 H
3 D
4 S
1 S
3 S
S 5
H K Q 10 9 8
D 7 6 5
C A 9 5 2
TableS A J 10 9
H J 2
D 10 2
C Q 10 8 6 3

Lead: H K
S K Q 6 4 3 2
D J 8 4
C K 7 4

A lesser player might have ruffed a club in dummy at this point, which results in East eventually winning three trump tricks. (Readers should play it out to see this.) But Wolff visualized the ending he wanted to reach, and this required that he reduce his own trump length.

Accordingly, declarer led a diamond to dummy and ruffed a heart as East threw a club. Next came a club ruff and another heart lead: East could not gain by ruffing, so he threw another club and South ruffed. South’s last club was ruffed in dummy, and the last heart was ruffed (perforce) and overruffed by South. Finally, South exited with a diamond, ruffed by East, and South had to win another trick with K-x in spades.

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© 1987 Richard Pavlicek