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Matchpoint Tricks

When this arose in a matchpoint pair game it was a flat board. Virtually every pair bid 4 S and made 11 tricks — OK, there was one pair who missed game and another who bid a slam and went down.

4 S by South

E-W Vul
S K 8 4 3
H A 6 4 3
D 8 4 2
C K 5
S J
H J 10 9 7
D A Q 6 3
C J 8 7 6
TableS Q 2
H Q 5
D J 10 9 7 5
C Q 10 4 3
Lead: H JS A 10 9 7 6 5
H K 8 2
D K
C A 9 2

West

Pass
All Pass
North

3 S
East

Pass
South
1 S
4 S

The bidding shown featured a limit major raise. North’s 3 S bid invited game, and South had more than enough to accept.

After winning the opening heart lead, most declarers drew trumps and tried a diamond lead from dummy, hoping to sneak a trick with the stiff king. Not a chance with the D A in West. Others tried in vain to establish the long heart. There’s not much to the hand.

Or is there? An expert matchpoint player knows that every trick counts, and he always looks for a chance to beat other pairs. Opportunity knocks here.

Suppose declarer ducks the opening lead. Is there any player in the history of bridge who would next cash his ace? Hardly! You or I would continue with another heart, and guess what? We are history!

Declarer wins the H K, draws trumps, and ruffs out his club loser in dummy. Next declarer leads all his remaining trumps, and West is caught in a dead squeeze — he cannot keep both his heart stopper and the D A. That’s 12 tricks for a top board. Next case.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek