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Suit Establishment

I was North on this deal and my son Rich was South — over 3,000 miles away in California. The Internet and computers ease some of the anguish of living far away from family and friends. Our opponents were both experts.

4 S× by South

Both Vul
S A K Q 6
H 5
D A Q 7 6 5
C Q 7 5
S 10 7 3
H 8 3
D J 9 3
C A K 10 9 4
TableS 9
H K Q J 9 6 4
D K 10 4 2
C 6 3
Lead: C AS J 8 5 4 2
H A 10 7 2
D 8
C J 8 2

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North
1 D
Dbl
3 S
Pass
East
2 H
Pass
Pass
Dbl
South
Pass
2 S
4 S
All Pass

When East’s weak jump overcall was passed around, I reopened with a takeout double. Rich bid his spades and happily accepted my game invitation. Oops! East made what experts call an “offside double” — he knew our decision to bid game was close and he could see we were headed for bad breaks. Sometimes doubles based on table feel can be lucrative. Not this time.

The defense attacked quickly with three rounds of clubs, East ruffing; then the H K went to South’s ace. Rich had seven top tricks and could see that ruffing three hearts in dummy (i.e., a crossruff) would be doomed by the poor spade spots in his hand. So he focused on the diamond suit: D A; diamond ruff; S A; diamond ruff. When the suit split 4-3 he was home: heart ruff; diamond ruff high; then draw trumps and claim.

This was not a difficult deal, but it provides an instructive point for the average player. If declarer were to draw just one round of trumps (or ruff a heart) before starting diamonds, he could not succeed. Try it! Establishing the long diamond requires perfect timing.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek