Article 7K42 Main

Timing and Control

 by Richard Pavlicek

This deal from the July Nashville Regional seemed innocuous when it occurred, but a closer look brought out some remarkable aspects.

As West, I routinely overcalled 1 H then listened to my opponents breeze into game after North’s negative double. South’s 1 NT rebid was off shape, but I would surely do the same with that ugly diamond suit. Alas, declarer could have made those ugly diamonds sparkle in the play.

South dealsS K Q J 2WestNorthEastSouth
E-W vulH 10 8 4 31 D
D A 21 HDblPass1 NT
C Q J 10Pass3 NTPassPass
S 10TableS 9 7 6 5 4 3Pass
H Q J 9 7 6H 2
D Q J 10D K 8
C A K 8 2C 9 7 6 3
S A 8
H A K 5
D 9 7 6 5 4 3
3 NT SouthC 5 4

My H Q lead went to the ace, and declarer played a diamond to the ace then a diamond to East’s king. On the club return I won the A-K and led a third club to remove North’s stopper. This gave declarer his eighth trick, but that’s all he could make. If he tried to set up his diamonds, I could take the setting trick in clubs.

Declarer got the timing right (it was correct to start diamonds) but he gave up his control too soon. Watch what happens if declarer ducks the first diamond. We must shift to clubs (else we won’t have a setting trick to take if declarer sets up diamonds) so assume I clear the suit as before. Declarer now runs the spades. I can part with two hearts easily, but what do I discard on the last spade? A heart or a diamond is immediately fatal, so I must throw my club. Now declarer wins the H K and leads a heart to set up the 10 as his ninth trick.

Careful study shows the diamond duck at Trick 2 is the only winning play. For instance, if declarer were to lead a club instead, West wins and leads a spade; far from obvious but it gently erodes declarer’s communication. A beautiful deal hidden in a plain wrapper.

Article 7K42 MainTop Timing and Control

© 1999 Richard Pavlicek