Rodwell finds the way


Eric Rodwell and Jeff Meckstroth, playing for the Florida team that successfully defended its title in Flight A of the Grand National Teams, arrived at a slightly ambitious notrump slam on this deal from the last quarter of the final against California. Now that he was in slam, it was up to Rodwell to find the line that would succeed.


                            S  10 8

Dlr: South                  H  A J 9 7

Vul: Both                   D  5 4

                            C  A K 10 7 3


              S  J 2                         S  9 6 4

              H  K Q 8 4                     H  10 5 3

              D  7 3 2                       D  K J 9 8 6

              C  J 9 8 6                     C  Q 5


                            S  A K Q 7 5 3

                            H  6 2

                            D  A Q 10

                            C  4 2


         WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

        Stansby      Rodwell       Martel      Meckstroth

          -            -             -           1C (1)

         Pass         1NT (2)       Pass         2D (3)

         Pass         2H (4)        Pass         2S

         Pass         2NT           Pass         3NT

         Pass         4D (5)        Dbl          Rdbl

         Pass         4S            Pass         4NT

         Pass         5H            Pass         5NT

         Pass         6D            Pass         6NT

         All Pass


        (1) Strong, forcing and artificial.

        (2) Positive response indicating clubs.

        (3) Shows spades.

        (4) Extra values but no spade fit.

        (5) A slam try in spades


Rodwell was not willing to stop in game ­­ he felt the fit and the high cards made a slam at least plausible. He felt even better about it when 4D was doubled ­­ now any diamond finesse was likely to work.


East led a spade and Rodwell cashed two rounds of the suit, learning that he could run the suit. However, he put off cashing the spades ­­he thought he might run into discarding problems. He saw several prospects ­­ maybe the queen­jack of clubs would fall doubleton, maybe both diamond finesses would work, maybe a squeeze would develop.


His next move was to lead a club to the 10, which lost to the queen. He finessed the queen on the diamond return and cashed his top clubs the suit didn't break 3­3. He cashed the DA and East contributed the king.


After cashing three more spades, this was the position:


                            S  --

                            H  A J

                            D  --

                            C  7


                 S  --                S  ­­

                 H  K Q               H  10 5

                 D  --                D  J

                 C  J                 C  --


                            S  3

                            H  6

                            D  10

                            C  --


When Rodwell led his last spade, what was West to do? If he sluffed his club, dummy's C7 would be good. But if threw a heart, dummy's ace­jack would take the last two tricks. This was a major gain because California stopped in 3NT in the other room, making five, for a 13­IMP swing to Florida.



How low can you get?


Robert Levin found an imaginative defense on this deal from the final of the Grand National Teams, Flight A. Levin was playing with partner Michael Seamon.


Dlr: West                   S  J 10 9 8 3

Vul: E­W                     H  A Q 10 8

                            D  A 7

                            C  J 6


           S  A K 4 2                     S  Q 6 5

           H  9                           H  7 6 3

           D  10 5 4                      D  9 8 6 3 2

           C  A K 10 7 4                  C  Q 9


                            S  7

                            H  K J 5 4 2

                            D  K Q J

                            C  8 5 3 2


         WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

         Levin         -           Seamon         -

         1C           1S            Pass         1NT

         Pass         2H            Pass         4H

         All Pass


Leading trumps against a two­suited declarer (especially where his partner has indicated a strong preference) is the traditional way for the defense to proceed against this type of auction, and that's exactly what Seamon did.


Declarer won the trump lead in his hand, played three rounds of diamonds pitching a club, and played a low spade from dummy. Since the defenders wanted to lead more trumps so that declarer couldn't ruff out their spade winners, Levin ducked, hoping Seamon could win the trick to continue the trump attack.


Seamon won the SQ and played a trump. Declarer won in hand and played the SJ, running it when Seamon played low. When Levin won the ace, he then switched to a low club. Seamon produced the CQ and played a third round of trumps. Declarer was now doomed to lose another black­suit trick, and finished down one.


Levin's play of underleading (or ducking) two sets of ace­kings on a single deal is spectacular, but declarer can always make the contract with careful play. Although playing three rounds of diamonds after winning the opening lead looks tempting, it destroys a valuable entry to declarer's hand.


The right line is to win the opening trump lead and immediately lead a spade. East can win and play another round of trumps, but declarer wins and ruffs a spade in dummy. Crossing to the preserved DA, another spade ruff follows. Declarer now cashes the top diamonds in dummy, pitching a club, and crosses to the closed hand with a trump. Declarer can then claim, conceding a spade and a club.