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Greed For Overtricks Costs Game

  by Richard Pavlicek

The 60th annual Southeastern Regional ended last Sunday in Bal Harbour. This seven-day tournament has been an April tradition long before I knew an ace from a deuce; and considering that contract bridge itself was invented 65 years ago, it may be the longest running tournament in existence.

Today’s deal occurred in the Open Swiss Teams, an event in which overtricks are of little concern. Unfortunately, the South player took this too lightly, and his greed to win an extra trick cost a makable contract. In bridge parlance he made a “matchpoint play” when he should have aimed for safety.

3 NT South
None Vul
S 2
H A J 7 2
D 5 3
C A Q 10 9 8 4


2 C
2 H
3 NT

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

Lead: H K
S K Q 10 9 6
H 8 3
D A K 9 2
C J 2

South and North described their two-suited hands, then the bidding ended logically in three notrump. Despite only 24 HCP, this was a sound contract because of the strong texture in each black suit.

West led the heart king, a good choice as it attacked dummy’s entry; declarer ducked, then he won the next heart with dummy’s jack. A spade went to the king, then South led the club jack which held. East’s holdup was routine, else the rest of the club suit would be good. Flushed with success, declarer led another club to the queen — after which he was flushed you know where. East won the king and returned a diamond to lock declarer in his hand. Dummy was dead, and so was the contract.

When the club jack held, declarer should not repeat the club finesse immediately. Take out some insurance and lead the spade queen (throw a heart from dummy) to East’s ace. Assume East returns a heart (nothing matters) to dummy’s ace, as South discards a diamond. Cross to the diamond king and lead the spade 10 to force out the jack (throw a club from dummy).

West will cash his last heart, but this gives the defenders only four tricks (two spades and two hearts). Declarer has nine tricks in the form of three spades, two hearts, two diamonds and two clubs. The club finesse is no longer needed so declarer will rise with the ace when the suit is next played.

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© 1990 Richard Pavlicek