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Sound Technique Nets Thin Slam

  by Richard Pavlicek

Several times in the past two months I have had the enjoyment of playing bridge at the Village Bridge Club in Riviera Beach, which meets on Tuesday afternoons at Newcomb Hall. The 26-table (average) game is efficiently directed by Bill Charles, whose task is simplified by the congenial group of players. If you’re up in that area and are looking for a quiet, friendly, smokeless afternoon of duplicate bridge, you won’t be disappointed.

Today’s deal was played at the Village Bridge Club by Alan Dayton of Palm Beach. When he picked up the South hand, all he could think of was passing every time it was his turn. Little did he know! When the bidding ended he found himself declaring a slam contract — with only three points.

6 D South
E-W Vul
H A 9 8 5 4
D A Q J 8 5

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

Lead: D 3
S 10 6 4 3
H 3
D K 7 6 2
C 10 7 5 4

North’s two-club opening was strong and artificial (as used in conjunction with weak two-bids) and two diamonds was a negative response. When North showed his heart suit, South had to bid again and three clubs was “cheaper minor, second negative” — a popular convention to prevent a weak hand from bidding notrump. North showed his diamond suit; South raised with his excellent trump support, and North ambitiously contracted for slam (translation: North overbid).

West led a trump — a good choice, anticipating the deal to be exactly as it was. But Dayton kept his cool; he knew his only hope was to establish the heart suit, and he proceeded to demonstrate proper technique. The diamond lead was taken in dummy to preserve the diamond king for ruffing purposes. (This was a key play as the cards lie.)

Then followed the heart ace, heart ruff, club ace, heart ruff and a club ruff. The next heart lead was ruffed with the king, and dummy was entered with the spade ace to draw the outstanding trumps and claim. The heart nine was good, and a spade trick was conceded to the opponents.

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© 1987 Richard Pavlicek