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Flexible Play Allows Changing Plan

  by Richard Pavlicek

Don’t forget! The continent-wide Royal Viking Pairs will be held on Thursday evening. Check with your local bridge club for details. Last year the winners were from Louisiana, and no Florida pair even came close. Enough of that! Florida has the bridge talent to wipe Louisiana off the map, so get out there and play.

In today’s deal from last year’s event, most North-South pairs played in three notrump, but some enterprising bidders reached the fair slam in diamonds. I recommended the bidding shown in the diagram.

6 D South
None Vul
H A J 10 7 5 4
D Q 9 4
C A 9 5 4


1 H
2 C
4 D
5 C

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

Lead: S 10
S A J 5 4
H 2
D A K 8 7 2
C K 7 2

After three routine bids, North must make the first key decision. It is tempting to jump to three hearts, but the suit quality is poor; two clubs is more flexible, as it keeps the bidding lower to explore for the best contract. (Note that any new suit bid by responder is forcing.) South’s jump to three notrump shows extra strength, and it denies three hearts in a good partnership.

The ball is back in North’s court. Four diamonds is the perfect choice; it brings a diamond contract into the picture and allows South to bid four hearts with a doubleton (remember, South denied three hearts). South is pleased to hear the diamond raise, so he bids four spades (ace showing); North shows the club ace, and South bids the slam. Optimistic? Perhaps, but you won’t be a winner if you don’t take chances.

Assume West leads the spade 10 (the heart king helps declarer). Discard a club from dummy and capture East’s queen with the ace. There are nine sure tricks if the trumps break, and your best prospect is to establish the heart suit: Lead a heart to the ace (West should not split his honors, else declarer can succeed by giving up a heart trick); heart ruff; spade ruff; heart ruff.

When East shows out on the third heart, Plan A has fizzled, so enter Plan B: Crossruff. Cash the ace-king of clubs; spade ruff; heart ruff; spade ruff. You have now won 10 tricks and still hold the ace-king of trumps — making six diamonds.

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© 1988 Richard Pavlicek