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Logic Would Reveal Proper Defense

  by Richard Pavlicek

I just returned from a three-week road trip, including the North American Championships in Chicago and a regional tournament in Charlotte — 38 sessions of bridge — so I don’t want to see another deck of cards for a month. Just kidding; deal me in!

Today’s deal decided the Flight A Teams in Charlotte. At one table North-South reached three notrump and easily made nine tricks for a score of 600. The bidding is shown as it occurred at the other table.

4 H South
None Vul
S A J 3
H Q 8 7 3
D 4 3
C K Q J 9

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

Lead: S 4
S K 5 2
H J 10 9 2
D A Q 2
C A 5 3

The first three bids were routine, then South used good judgment to jump to three notrump with his flat distribution. North probably should have passed, but his weak diamond holding was a cause for concern. After a little thought, he corrected to four hearts.

West struck a good lead with the spade four, and declarer tried dummy’s jack; queen, king. A low heart was led to the queen and king, then East shifted to the diamond jack. Declarer was tempted to take the finesse; but he realized that if it lost, the opponents might switch back to spades and defeat the contract. Therefore, he hopped with the ace, forced out the ace of trumps, and eventually discarded his spade loser on dummy’s fourth club — making four hearts.

You probably could predict the postmortem. West contended that East should have returned a spade when he won the heart king. East claimed that he could not be sure who held the spade nine, and that a diamond shift might have been critical. What do you think?

East gets the blame. If he had applied some logical thinking, the situation would be apparent. South’s hand pattern was almost surely 3-4-3-3 because of his three-notrump bid, in which case he could not benefit by discarding a diamond on dummy’s fourth club. As to the location of the spade nine, West must have it as declarer would not play dummy’s jack at trick one if he held K-9-x in his hand — he would play low to ensure three spade tricks whenever West had led from the 10 or the queen.

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© 1989 Richard Pavlicek