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Lucky Lead Revives Hopeless Slam

  by Richard Pavlicek

The Florida finals of the Grand National Team Championship, an annual event of the American Contract Bridge League, were held last weekend in Tampa. Bernie Chazen of Tamarac was on the Flight A winning team. Jean Poore of Ft. Lauderdale, Gary Schneider of Plantation and Joe Klein of Pompano Beach were on the Flight B winning team. All will receive expense-paid trips to Salt Lake City in July to compete in the national championship of their divisions.

Today’s deal arose in the Flight B event. Poore, North, had a difficult hand to bid after West’s one-diamond opening, so she decided to try one of her newly learned gadgets — the Michaels cue-bid. Two diamonds showed both major suits, though not necessarily a strong hand. This convention is more practical than the strong cue-bid (which seldom occurs) as it allows one to compete with a weak, distributional hand such as: S K-J-10-9-3 H Q-J-10-9-2 D 2 C 3-2. It has found favor among many tournament players, myself included.

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

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

Schneider, South, was obliged to name his longer major suit; and the next thing he knew, he was in slam. Poore made a gutsy bid of six spades, but her hand was much stronger than it might have been (compare my example). I admire her courage. Bold bids are rewarded far more often timid ones.

Six spades is not a good contract but does have chances, especially with South declarer to protect the club king from an opening lead-through. As the cards lie, however, it could not be made… unless … you guessed it, West led the ace of diamonds.

Schneider made short work of the play. He ruffed the diamond and cashed both top trumps to discover that East held a natural trump trick. Two top hearts were won, then a low heart was ruffed in the South hand. Dummy’s clubs then disappeared on the top diamonds — making six spades.

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© 1988 Richard Pavlicek