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Make a Game To Beat the Experts

  by Richard Pavlicek

Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Reno was the site of the Spring North American Bridge Championships, which drew a record crowd. The main event was the seven-day knockout team contest, in which 106 teams vied for the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup. The winners were Robert Levin (formerly of South Florida), Peter Weichsel, Bart Bramley, Lou Bluhm, Ron Rubin and Michael Becker.

My team fell by the wayside in the round of 32, losing to the Palm Beach squad of Sam Stayman, Richard Reisig, Lea du Pont, and former Italian stars, Benito Garozzo and Georgio Belladonna. I wish I could say that all our finesses lost; but this team performed exceptionally well, especially Reisig, who never touched a wrong card in the 64 deals.

Today’s deal occurred in our losing match. The bidding is shown as it occurred at my table. North opened one club and I overcalled two diamonds (weak) with the East hand. South bid two hearts, which was nonforcing in the partnership style (an unusual treatment), West raised to three diamonds, and North aggressively bid four hearts.

4 H South
None Vul
S J 7 3 2
H A J 10
D 8
C A K 8 6 3

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

Lead: D K
S A K 4
H 8 7 6 4 3 2
D 10 4
C 10 5

West led two top diamonds, forcing dummy to ruff. Declarer tried to establish the club suit by cashing the ace-king and ruffing a club as I threw a diamond. This proved to be fruitless, and declarer eventually lost two hearts and a spade trick — down one.

Four hearts was not made at the other table either, although our teammates judged well to bid only three hearts, resulting in a small pickup. Nine tricks seems to be the limit, and I doubt that I would have done better at the table; but four hearts can be made. Do you see how? Here’s your chance to beat the experts.

The key play is to throw a spade from dummy instead of ruffing the second diamond. The best defense is another diamond, then ruff in hand (throw another spade from dummy); club ace-king; club ruff (East cannot gain by ruffing); heart ace; club ruff; heart to West’s king; and no defense can beat you.

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© 1989 Richard Pavlicek