Article 7K73 Main

Foiled Again

 by Richard Pavlicek

This deal from a recent online match offered some subtle play opportunities in an optimistic contract. I was North and opened 1 C, then I doubled the 2 S raise for takeout. My son Rich, South, was obliged to bid 3 H with nothing, so with promising distribution he judged well to jump to game.

North dealsS 3WestNorthEastSouth
N-S vulH A K QSchwartzPavlicekPavlicek Jr
D A 9 3 21 C1 SPass
C A 8 7 4 32 SDblPass4 H
S J 10 9TableS A K Q 5 2PassPassPass
H 3H 10 9 7
D 10 8 7 4D K J 6
C K Q J 9 5C 10 2
S 8 7 6 4
H J 8 6 5 4 2
D Q 5
4 H SouthC 6

Suppose West leads the C K to the ace; then a spade is taken by East, and the obvious trump shift is won in dummy. Leading a diamond now works with the king right and diamonds 4-3, but it seems better to ruff a club. You next lead a spade and…

Whoa! The appearance of East’s C 10 suggests a 5-2 club break, which means you will be unable to establish the long club; and a crossruff will fall short if East uppercuts on the third round of clubs (you must overruff, else a trump return beats you). If you routinely ruff the spade, there is no way to succeed.

The neat solution is to pitch a diamond on the second spade, which effectively rectifies the count for a later squeeze throw-in. Nothing can stop you, but suppose East wins and leads a second trump. The play continues: club ruff; spade ruff; club ruff; then draw the last trump. Assuming East has kept the D K guarded, exit with a spade for the endplay.

Alas, Rich never had the chance. West, multinational-champion Richard Schwartz (yes, three Richards in this game), used superb reasoning to find the only lead to defeat the contract against any play: a trump.

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© 2003 Richard Pavlicek