Sadly, in March the bridge world lost one of its great icons in Bill Root, my longtime friend and regular partner in major events from 1977-96. Almost every bridge player knew about Mr. Root through his teaching, or his bridge books, or his popular cruises; but I had the pleasure of witnessing his skills firsthand at the card table. Many times over the years, I marveled at his foresight and asked myself: Would I have found that play? At least, if I can answer yes today, it is likely that his influence was a factor.
This deal from the 1992 Toronto Nationals is a case in point. Bill was West and I was East, and our opponents bid routinely to game.
Bill led the K to declarers ace as I played the seven (our practice was to show count in this situation). Two rounds of trumps revealed the 4-1 break as I pitched a club. Declarer next led a low spade to Bills blank ace and I played the eight (also count). As West, what would you do now?
Almost in straight tempo, Bill shifted to a diamond. Beautiful! This was essential to defeat the contract. If he had cashed his club trick as most defenders would (or led a heart), declarer could succeed by an eventual endplay against me. The thoughtful diamond shift allowed Bill to regain the lead in clubs to lead a second diamond to foil any attempt by declarer. Now thats what I call a great partner.
[Addendum: This deal was incorporated with five others in the quiz Root for the Home Team.]
© 1990 Richard Pavlicek