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Failure To Combine Chances Costs

  by Richard Pavlicek

First, a special salute to Alice Gordon, who celebrates her 100th birthday this month. The Ft. Lauderdale Bridge Club will honor her with a Champagne Brunch on Sunday, November 27, at noon, followed by its regular duplicate game. The club’s manager, Rhoda Schreider, had nothing but praise for this lovely lady who plays bridge (quite well, I might add) on a regular basis.

Today’s deal, from a local club game, demonstrates accurate slam bidding. After three routine bids, South jumped to three notrump since he had the unbid suit (clubs) well protected and the required point count for game. North’s four notrump was a quantitative bid (not Blackwood) to invite six notrump; and South, holding 16 points when he might have held only 13, carried on to slam.

6 NT South
None Vul
S A K 7 5
H K 9
D A K 10 6 4
C 8 5

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

Lead: S J
S Q 6
H A Q J 5
D 9 8 7
C A Q J 4

Unfortunately, declarer fell from grace in the play. West led the spade jack to South’s queen, then the diamond nine was swung to East’s jack. East shifted to a low club and South, expecting the diamond suit to run, hopped with the ace. Alas. West showed out on the next diamond lead and the contract was hopeless.

Declarer was correct that the chance of running the diamond suit was much better than the 50-50 club finesse, hence it was clearly right to play diamonds before clubs. As the astute reader should have noticed, South went wrong in his method. At the moment of truth (when East led a club), South was unaware of the foul diamond division.

The correct play after winning the spade queen is to lead a diamond to the ace, cash the heart king, cross to the heart ace, and lead a diamond toward dummy, then: (1) If West follows, simply duck and you are assured of four diamond tricks and won’t need the club finesse. (2) If West shows out, you can forget about the diamonds; so win the diamond king and take the club finesse. In the actual layout declarer wins all 13 tricks as West is eventually squeezed in the black suits.

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© 1988 Richard Pavlicek