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Perilous Distribution Causes Swing

  by Richard Pavlicek

I was in Salt Lake City, July 29 to August 7, for the North American Bridge Championships. The main event was the Spingold Master Knockout Teams, a six-day event contested by top teams from all over the country. My teammates (Bill Root, Edgar Kaplan and Norman Kay) and I were going strong until we suffered a crushing, semifinal round loss to the winners: Jim Mahaffey, Ron Andersen, Paul Soloway, Robert Goldman, Eric Rodwell and Jeff Meckstroth.

Our defeat was especially painful because we led throughout the match, only to see our opponents pull it out at the wire. Tournament bridge has its highs and lows, and this occasion reached the ocean floor. “It’s only a game,” I keep telling myself…

On a brighter note, today’s deal caused a big swing in our third match. As South, I opened two clubs (strong and artificial) and was surprised to hear West overcall in my strongest suit. Root, North, showed his club suit, to my delight; and I bid three hearts, which North raised to game lacking a better choice. After a little thought I bid seven clubs, reasoning that Root had to have the club king (he would not bid a jack-high suit), and he could still correct to seven hearts with good heart support.

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

2 S

3 C
4 H

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

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

West led the diamond ace (thank you), which I ruffed and led the ace and queen of clubs. I thought about overtaking with dummy’s king (OK as the cards lie), but this would cost the contract if East showed out; so I played low. My problem now was how to get to dummy. West’s bid warned of leading a spade to the jack, so I cashed the ace and king of hearts. The rest was easy when West could not ruff.

Ironically, a contract of only six clubs at the other table was defeated. Kaplan, West, did not make the emaciated spade overcall so South was not tipped off about the distribution. He tried to reach dummy with the spade jack…

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© 1988 Richard Pavlicek