Article 7K33 Main

Jack Be Nimble

 by Richard Pavlicek

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.

South dealsS 8 3WestNorthEastSouth
None vulH 10 9 51 H
D A J 10 6 5Pass1 NTPass2 NT
C 9 5 2Pass4 HPassPass
S J 5 4TableS 10 7 6 2Pass
H J 3H K 8 6
D 9 8 7 2D K Q
C 10 8 6 4C A K Q 7
S A K Q 9
H A Q 7 4 2
D 4 3
4 H SouthC J 3

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.

Article 7K33 MainTop Jack Be Nimble

© 1998 Richard Pavlicek