Main     Article 7K75 by Richard Pavlicek    

Close but No Cigar

The title not only befits the following deal, but also my team’s run for the Vanderbilt Cup in Philadelphia in March. My teammates (Lee Rautenberg, Mike Kamil, Marty Fleischer, Bob Jones and Barnet Shenkin) played well in the week-long event as 93 teams were whittled down to the final two. We would meet my nemesis: Nickell, Freeman, Meckstroth, Rodwell, Hamman and Soloway for all the marbles. Sigh. Lost again.

I was South on this deal from the quarterfinal and chose to make a light opening bid of 1 S (the C 10-9 tipped the scales). My partner bid 2 NT (natural, 15+) then showed a spade preference over my 3 C, leading to the normal game in spades.

None Vul
S K Q 10
H A 5 3
D A Q 10 9
C 5 4 3
S J 8 6 2
H 8 6
D K 8 7 5 4
C Q J
TableS 3
H K J 10 9 7
D J 6 3
C K 8 7 6
Lead: D 4S A 9 7 5 4
H Q 4 2
D 2
C A 10 9 2

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

2 NT
3 S
East

Pass
Pass
South
1 S
3 C
4 S

My first problem came at trick one, and I decided West was likely to lead from the D K; plus I might need the trick if the H K were wrong. I finessed the queen. Whew! Now my chances were excellent and, by playing along dummy-reversal lines, I did not need favorable breaks in the black suits.

Next came the D A (heart pitch); diamond ruff; C A; H A; diamond ruff (East pitched a heart); then I exited with the H Q to East. Now left with S K-Q-10 opposite A-9-7, I needed only to ruff successfully with the S 9 or 10. On the heart return, I decided to take my shot immediately as there was an additional chance that West might have to follow suit with the missing heart. Darn! West overruffed with the S J; down one. Had I ruffed with the S A, I would have made it.

The same contract was reached at the other table by North (my hand passed and then transferred to spades after a 1 NT opening). My teammate Marty Fleischer found a club lead, after which declarer was down one with routine play. Just another push.

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© 2003 Richard Pavlicek