Article 7K45 Main

Key Defense Missed

 by Richard Pavlicek

This deal from the Bracketed Knockout Teams in Cincinnati caused some heated discussion. After a routine opening bid and overcall, West made a “very negative” double, North raised his partner’s suit, and East took a stab at 3 NT based on his powerful clubs. This contract would have been set two tricks, but South overbid to four spades, and East doubled.

East dealsS 8 6 3WestNorthEastSouth
None vulH 8 6 5 4 3 21 C1 S
D A Q 4Dbl2 S3 NT4 S
C 5PassPassDblPass
S 4TableS Q J 10PassPass
H K J 9 7H Q
D 9 7 6 3 2D K J 10
C J 9 2C A K Q 10 8 7
S A K 9 7 5 2
H A 10
D 8 5
4 S× SouthC 6 4 3

West led his partner’s club suit, and East shifted to a trump at trick two, won by the king. Declarer next won the H A and gave up a heart to West (East pitched a club); then the diamond shift was won by the ace. For the next four tricks, East was helpless as declarer crossruffed hearts and clubs. Finally, when a good heart was led from dummy, East ruffed and South pitched his losing diamond — making four spades doubled.

“Just lead a trump and we beat it two tricks!” East berated his partner. “Or at least lead the club jack so I can let you hold the lead for a diamond switch.”

“Sorry,” admitted West, “I just made a normal lead. I could have avoided this ugly mess if I just passed one spade. But I think you could have beaten it yourself.”

“There was nothing I could do,” argued East.

West was right. There were actually two ways for East to beat the contract. The simplest was a club return at trick two, which kills an entry to dummy and prevents declarer from establishing a long heart. But even after the trump shift, the defense could prevail with a spectacular gambit: East must ruff the second heart with his natural trump trick and lead his last trump.

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© 2000 Richard Pavlicek