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How To Avoid Carding Mishaps

  by Richard Pavlicek

The third annual Worldwide Bridge Contest, sponsored by Seiko Epson, the Japan-based computer giant, was held on June 3 at 8:00 P.M. EDT. I specify the exact time to emphasize the unique feature that this event is held simultaneously around the globe. For example, the local time in Tokyo was 9:00 A.M., while Londoners began at midnight — too bad, guys; better luck next year.

Identical, prearranged deals were played at each location. All participants received a souvenir booklet with entertaining commentary by film-star, Omar Sharif. My only complaint was the squinty-size type used throughout the booklet — except for the Epson ads, which stood out like blockbusters. Perhaps this will be improved for next year.

Today’s deal, No. 29 in the booklet, was the scene of a gross defensive mishap at one table. South became declarer in three notrump after a routine auction, and West led the heart jack — a reasonable choice in light of his anemic spade suit. East signaled encouragement with the nine and South won the ace.

3 NT South
Both Vul
H 5 3 2
D Q 8 7 6 2
C Q 6 5


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

Lead: H J
S Q 10 5
H A K 8 6
D A J 4
C A 10 2

Declarer’s only sure entry to dummy was in spades (after driving out the ace), so he correctly started diamonds by leading the ace then the jack. West won the king and continued with the heart 10 to get out of his partner’s way. Unfortunately, East was thinking the same thing as he overtook with the queen. Disaster! Declarer won the king and the rest of his hearts were good. Of course, this could never happen in your partnership. Could it?

It shouldn’t happen, and it won’t if you follow a simple rule that all experts endorse: When leading a suit for the second time, lead your highest remaining card only from a short holding. This warns partner not to overtake or unblock.

In the actual layout East was the culprit; he should play the four on the second round. If West had held J-10-8-7, he would continue with the seven then East logically would play the queen. Similarly, from a holding such as K-Q-9, lead the king then the queen (assuming you decide to continue); but from K-Q-J-9-2, lead the king then the jack.

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© 1988 Richard Pavlicek