Article 7K82 Main

Two Missed Boats

 by Richard Pavlicek

I held the bleak West hand on this deal and listened to the opponents bid quickly to 3 NT. Partner’s weak jump overcall had little effect, other than to direct my lead. The sight of dummy, however, brightened up prospects as my D K-Q was now worth two tricks.

North dealsS QWestNorthEastSouth
None vulH A K 6 51 D2 S3 NT
D 9 7 6 4 2PassPassPass
C A 4 3
S 4 3 2TableS A J 10 8 6 5
H 9 8 2H 10 7 4
D K Q 8D 3
C Q 9 7 5C J 6 2
S K 9 7
H Q J 3
D A J 10 5
3 NT SouthC K 10 8

East won the S A and continued with the jack, as South held up his king and pitched a diamond from dummy. Realizing the futility of establishing spades without an entry, East wisely shifted to the C 2; eight, nine, ace. Declarer then lost a diamond finesse to my king (the falsecard seemed wise since I was marked with the king).

I knew that partner would not shift to the C 2 from 10-x-x (he would lead the 10) so the layout was clear. It was imperative to establish a club trick before my D Q was dislodged, and I also had to guard against a possible endplay; hence I led back the C Q to preserve partner’s jack. It made no difference whether declarer won or ducked; he could come to only eight tricks.

Luckily for us, declarer missed the winning line: He should duck the first club (let me hold the C 9). Then no matter what I return, he can win the C K, S K and cash all four hearts, coming down to C 10 D A-J-10. I’m squeezed! If I pitch a diamond, he establishes diamonds with one loser; if I pitch a club, he cashes the C A then finesses the D 10 to endplay me.

While declarer was left standing on the dock, it is also worth noting that East missed a subtle opportunity. With an entryless hand, a spade continuation could hardly do any good, but an immediate club shift might. Indeed, this would seal declarer’s fate no matter how he played. Try it. Evidently, partner only missed a small boat, as it returned to the dock to pick him up.

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© 2004 Richard Pavlicek