Article 7J01   Main

A Matter of Time

  by Richard Pavlicek

This deal from a recent online event offered a tough challenge for North-South pairs to go plus. Virtually all bid to a slam, and those who chose 6 C, 6 D, or 6 NT had no chance as the cards lay. The only slam with a prayer was 6 H, and it was reached at my table (I was West) on the auction shown. The first five bids were natural, 4 S showed the ace, 5 NT said “pick a slam” and South accurately chose hearts.

North dealsS 2WestNorthEastSouth
None vulH A K 41 DPass1 H
D A K Q 7 6Pass3 CPass4 C
C A 8 4 3Pass4 HPass4 S
S Q 10 8 4TableS J 9 7 6 5Pass5 NTPass6 H
H 9 7 6 2H 5 3All Pass
D 8 4D J 10 9 5
C K J 9C 10 7
S A K 3
H Q J 10 8
D 3 2
6 H SouthC Q 6 5 2

With dummy marked for short spades I led a trump. Declarer won the H A, led a spade to the ace, and ruffed a spade with the H K. The remaining trumps were drawn, as North threw two clubs and East threw a spade and a club. Alas, there was no way to succeed. If declarer took the S K, East could cash a spade when he won a diamond trick. Instead, declarer just cleared the diamonds, and East returned a club, locking declarer in dummy — down one.

Declarer’s general plan was to win four hearts, four diamonds, one club and three spades (with the ruff). This was sound, but the timing was flawed. The first three tricks were correct, but instead of drawing trumps right away the key maneuver is to duck a diamond. The diamond must be conceded while declarer has communication to either hand. No matter what the defense does now, declarer is able to draw trumps, cash the S K and run the diamonds. Try it.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek