Column 7C52   Main

Winning Defense Goes Unnoticed

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal, No. 6 in the Epson Worldwide Bridge Contest, is most noteworthy because it was misanalyzed in the souvenir booklet. The aggressive four-heart contract requires some guesswork, but according to the booklet, “On the lead of a diamond, South can actually get home. He wins the first trick, leads a spade to the queen, and needs only a couple of finesses to make 10 tricks.”

4 H South
N-S Vul
S K 10 6
H A 10 5 3
D A 9 3
C J 8 2

2 S

4 H

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

Lead: D 10
S Q 3
H K J 8 7 6
D 8 7 6 5
C A 6

Ellen Peltz of Sunrise reached the optimistic contract while playing at the Tamarac Bridge Club. As South, she passed originally and then backed in with three hearts after West’s weak two-bid was passed around. Her partner, Jim Long of Ft. Lauderdale, showed supreme confidence in her play by raising to game.

The diamond lead was taken by the ace, then declarer cashed the heart ace, finessed the jack, and drew the outstanding trump with the king. The handling of the trump suit was based on the bidding: West was known to be long in spades, so East rated to have longer hearts — hence, the finesse. The spade queen was led to the ace and West shifted to a club to force out declarer’s ace. The spade finesse (odds-on from the bidding) then provided a parking place for South’s club loser and only two more tricks were lost in diamonds — making four hearts.

Well played, in fact better than the line suggested in the booklet, since it offered West the spade ace before he could see his partner’s spade play. The contention, however, is with the defense. West can always defeat four hearts by refusing the first spade. Declarer then cannot get to dummy in time for a club discard, except at the expense of leading a fourth round of trumps, which is needed to ruff declarer’s last diamond. And what if declarer did not draw trumps first? West can then lead a third spade for East to ruff, killing the discard.

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© 1987 Richard Pavlicek