Main     Article 7K33 by Richard Pavlicek    

Jack Be Nimble

As North on this deal from a recent IMP game, I was not happy with my bidding. South opened 1 H and I chose to respond 1 NT (forcing) since my values were so minimal. When partner invited game with 2 NT, I started thinking: Perhaps my H 10-9 would be golden; perhaps my diamond suit would be the key. Or perhaps I had lost my marbles! I took a chance on game.

4 H by South

None Vul
S 8 3
H 10 9 5
D A J 10 6 5
C 9 5 2
S J 5 4
H J 3
D 9 8 7 2
C 10 8 6 4
TableS 10 7 6 2
H K 8 6
D K Q
C A K Q 7
Lead: S 4S A K Q 9
H A Q 7 4 2
D 4 3
C J 3

West

Pass
Pass
North

1 NT
4 H
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 H
2 NT

Predictably, 4 H was a poor contract; but West found an equally poor lead: a low spade. South captured the 10 with the ace and cashed two more spades, discarding a club from dummy. Next came the good S 9, and West eagerly grabbed his doubleton H J as dummy threw another club. Voila! The contract was now cold. A club could be ruffed in dummy and East’s H K could be picked up with the repeated finesse.

Does this justify the bidding? Hardly. But it does bring to light a defensive error. Despite the unfortunate lead, West can set the contract if he ruffs the spade low. Whether North overruffs or discards, the defenders still have to get a trump trick (note East’s H 8), two clubs (or one club and the H 3) plus a diamond.

The underlying principle is clear. West should see that if he ruffs with the jack, dummy will shed a losing club, so the best this can do is break even. Ruffing low affords the only chance to gain.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek