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Sparks Fly in Five-Level Frenzy

  by Richard Pavlicek

Beginning this Tuesday at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood is the Gold Coast Holiday Regional. The six-day tournament, held once every three years, should draw hundreds of players from all over the Southeast. Special events have been planned exclusively for novices, as a major goal of the American Contract Bridge League is to attract new players. Try it! You’ll like it.

Today’s deal caused quite a sensation when it occurred in the last Gold Coast Regional. Cliff Russell of Miami was South, and he jumped off the starting block with an unorthodox four-heart bid. One heart would be the normal call, but Russell is a clever, tactical bidder who likes to create action. West could not resist bidding his eight-card spade suit despite only three points, and North tried five diamonds after some thought. When East doubled, North retreated to five hearts and East echoed his sentiments about that contract.

5 H× South
Both Vul
D A Q 10 9 6 5
C A Q J 5 3

4 S

5 D
5 H

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

Lead: S 10
S A Q 5 4
H K Q 10 9 7 5 3
D 8
C 2

West led a spade, ruffed by East, and the heart return went to dummy’s ace. East appeared smug and chipper, so declarer decided to play him for all the missing high cards. The club ace was won, followed by the club queen which was covered by East and ruffed. This made the club jack good, but declarer still was short of his contract.

Russell found the answer. He led the king, queen and another heart to East as dummy discarded three diamonds. East was forced to return a club (else lead into the ace-queen of diamonds), and this gave declarer an extra entry to dummy. After winning the jack, a club ruff established the fifth club and the diamond ace provided the entry to cash it — making five hearts doubled, as East turned to shades of purple.

The guilty party was really West. He asked for trouble when he bid with such a weak hand.

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© 1987 Richard Pavlicek