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Life Master at Thirteen

  by Richard Pavlicek

My son Rich recently reached a notable plateau in bridge by attaining the rank of Life Master. This status is awarded by the American Contract Bridge League to players who accumulate 300 or more masterpoints, a portion of which must be won in regional or national tournaments. At 13, Rich is currently the youngest Life Master and the second youngest ever to achieve it.

Rich was South on today’s deal and opened the bidding one club. West jumped to three spades, and North doubled. This was a penalty double in the partnership methods, but Rich used good judgment to pull it with his freakish distribution — he tried four hearts. This was music to North’s ears, and a routine check for aces with Blackwood led to the heart slam. East chose to double, based more on impulse than logic.

6 H× South
Both Vul
S K 10 9 8
H A J 10 4 3
D A J 2

3 S

4 NT
6 H

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

Lead: S A
S 3
H K Q 9 8
D 3
C A J 8 6 5 4 2

West led the S A and then shifted to a diamond, won by dummy’s ace. Rich cashed the C K and led a heart to his eight to disclose the bad trump division. A low club was ruffed with the H 10 and a heart was returned to his nine. Another club was ruffed with the ace and dummy’s last trump was led to the South hand to draw East’s remaining trumps and the South hand was high.

The play was unspectacular, just sound technique; but observe that declarer would fail if he led just one round of trumps before cashing the C K, or if he tried to cash both clubs early or attempted a complete crossruff. The exact play sequence was crucial.

Did you notice that the slam could be defeated? West must lead a second spade and East must throw off his club. Rich then would face a hopeless task, unable to cash the C K with trumps out. But kids are entitled to get lucky sometimes, too.

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© 1983 Richard Pavlicek