The Real Deal


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Turkey in Turkey

In bridge slang, a “turkey” refers to a poor, possibly naive player. But in this case, it is a U.S. national champion; because the event was the 2019 European Championships in Turkey, I couldn’t resist the title. Furthermore, there was not one, not two, but three mistakes made by declarer, so maybe turkey is appropriate. Actually, three strikes in a row at bowling is also called a turkey. Our (non) hero held:

♠A 3   Q 10 9 7 6 5 4  –  ♣A 9 3 2

Both sides vulnerable at IMPs, his partner dealt and passed. Right-hand opponent opened 3 and he overcalled 3. LHO bid 3NT to play. Partner raised to 4, which came around to LHO, who doubled. Against 4 doubled, the K was led:

North
♠ 10 8 7 6 5 2
J
Q 7
♣ K Q 6 5
South
♠ A 3
Q 10 9 7 6 5 4
♣ A 9 3 2

Not bad at all. Dummy’s honors are a pretty sight. Declarer ruffed the diamond lead and played a heart. Dummy’s jack won, East following with the 3. Now what? Declarer crossed to the ♠A and played the Q. West won, East showing out, and played a second diamond. Declarer ruffed and played another high heart. How did he do? Not well. This was the Real Deal:

North
♠ 10 8 7 6 5 2
J
Q 7
♣ K Q 6 5
West
♠ Q J
A K 8 2
K 10 5 2
♣ J 10 7
East
♠ K 9 4
3
A J 9 8 6 4 3
♣ 8 4
South
♠ A 3
Q 10 9 7 6 5 4
♣ A 9 3 2

West won the second high heart and played his ♠J. East astutely overtook and played a third spade. Declarer was doomed. West’s 8 was promoted into the setting trick.

Where did declarer go wrong? Actually at three points! His goal should have been to avoid the trump promotion. How? Let’s count the three ways.

He could simply discard a spade on the opening lead of the K (loser on loser). This would mean East could never get on lead in spades.

When the J won, declarer could have gotten out his scissors and played the Q from dummy, throwing his low spade as East wins the trick. And third, when West won a high trump and erred by continuing diamonds instead of playing a spade, declarer again could have discarded his spade loser. Zero for three!

What about a spade opening lead? Declarer can simply duck and win the second round. Notice that if West “sacrifices” in 5, it will make on a heart lead.