Masters of the Moysian by Ray Lee

 

What does it take to win a North American championship? Certainly skill and judgment, but a little luck at the right time doesn't hurt either. Grant Baze and George Mittelman took advantage of all three on the next deals . They steered their way to the right side of two nice 4-3 trump fits, each of them worth a winning board.

 

                         Dlr: South, Vul: E-W

 

                            S  K Q 10

                            H  K J 10 9 4

                            D  Q 7

                            C  Q 9 5

            S  5 4 3                        S  9 6 2

            H  Q 5                          H  8 6 3 2

            D  A J 4 3                      D  K 10

            C  A 4 3 2                      C  K J 10 8

                            S  A J 8 7

                            H  A 7

                            D  9 8 6 5 2

                            C  7 6

 

           WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

            -           Baze           -         Mittelman

            -            -             -           Pass

           1NT (1)      Pass          Pass         2S

           All Pass

 

           (1) 11-14

 

With a 5-4 hand, it could scarcely be right to sell out to 1NT, but Mittelman had a decision to make on exactly how to balance. In a new partnership, it wasn't clear to him exactly what a passed-hand double would mean, so it was definitely safer to bid one of his suits. But which? His decision to bid spades was probably influenced by the higher scoring potential of the major, not to mention the fact that he didn't want a diamond lead if the auction were to continue to an

East/West contract.

His choice was a happy one on this layout. West led the HQ, but nothing mattered. With spades 3-3, no defense could garner more than four tricks, while declarer had the obvious nine for plus 140.

 

The second decision was more complex. This was the deal:

 

                        Dlr: South, Vul: None

 

                            S  Q 10 9 3

                            H  K Q 8 3

                            D  A 5 4 2

                            C  9

            S  J 8 7 4                      S  5 2

            H  J 7 5 2                      H  A 10 6 4

            D  6                            D  9 7 3

            C  A Q J 5                      C  7 6 4 2

                            S  A K 6

                            H  9

                            D  K Q J 10 8

                            C  K 10 8 3

 

           WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

            -           Baze           -         Mittelman

            -            -             -           1D

           1NT (1)      Dbl           Rdbl (2)     Pass

           2C           3C            Pass         3D

           Pass         4D            Pass         4S

           All Pass

 

          (1) Takeout of diamonds

          (2) Rescue

 

Again, the new partnership was in uncharted waters. Baze puzzled for a while over the 4S bid, but finally decided it could not be a slam try. Since in his view, 4D had not been forcing, it was impossible for Mittelman (who had shown little so far) to be offering more than a choice of games. Certainly Baze tabled the dummy in 4S with the air of a man who is afraid the wheels had come off. Mittelman, for his part, having missed a chance at both 2C doubled and 3NT, was unwilling to

play in 5D at board-a-match scoring. So there they were again.

West was understandably confused by the bidding, and started the CA, a lead not calculated to strike fear into declarer's heart. The CQ was continued, won by the king after a diamond discard from dummy. Now came a heart to the king and ace, and East made the reasonable switch to a low diamond. After all, if partner had a singleton he might have led it, so perhaps he had none? Winning the diamond, Mittelman drew trumps (having no difficulty finessing against the SJ after the auction) and claimed plus 450.

Skill, judgment, and a little luck at the right time are fine commodities. But which order should those be in?