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Floridians Second in Spingold

  by Richard Pavlicek

An all-Florida team marched to near victory in the Spingold Knockout Teams — the grueling, seven-day North American championship event completed a week ago in Baltimore.

Bernie Chazen of Tamarac; Russ Arnold and Michael Seamon of the Miami area; and Tom Mahaffey, Jack Denny and Roy Fox of the St. Petersburg area defeated every team they faced until the final match, in which they suffered an 8-point loss to a team captained by Brian Glubok of New York City. Despite the narrow loss, the Florida squad earned qualification for the 1988 U.S. Team Trials, because the Glubok team included a non-American player and was ineligible.

On today’s deal Bernie Chazen had to reach into his bag of tricks to justify his optimistic bidding. After East’s weak two-heart bid, Chazen, South, might well have passed with only 12 points since his partner, Russ Arnold, had previously passed; but experience has shown that aggressive bidding is so often the winning strategy — hence, the takeout double. North’s cue-bid of three hearts indicated game-going values, South showed his four-card spade suit, and North raised to game.

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

Lead: H A
S K 9 6 4
H 5 2
D A Q 6 3
C Q J 10

West led the heart ace and shifted to a club, ducked to the king; then East returned a diamond which South won by finessing the queen. The spade king and ace were cashed, and declarer’s prospects seemed to crumble when East showed out. With a sure trump loser, the only chance to make the contract was to avoid losing a diamond trick — ostensibly impossible. But Chazen saw a glimmer of hope and he played for it.

The queen and jack of clubs were cashed, a heart was ruffed in dummy, and a diamond was discarded on the club ace. Declarer then led a diamond to the ace (key play) before exiting with a spade to West. Fortunately, West held no more diamonds and the forced heart return allowed declarer to ruff in one hand and discard his diamond loser from the other.

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© 1987 Richard Pavlicek