Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} J 10 9 6 5

{heart} 3 2

{diam} J 10 9 8

{club} 3 2

WEST

{spade} None

{heart} A K 8 6 5 4

{diam} A 7 6 3 2

{club} 5 4

EAST

{spade} K 3 2

{heart} Q 10

{diam} 5 4

{club} A Q J 8 7 6

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A Q 8 7 4

{heart} J 9 7

{diam} K Q

{club} K 10 9

The bidding:

South

1 {spade}

Pass

All Pass

West

2 {heart}

4 {heart}

North

Pass

4 {spade}

East

3 {heart}

Dbl

Opening lead: {heart} K

The American Contract Bridge League's Fall Championships begin Thursday in Boston, with thousands of tables in play over 11 days. The big event, the Blue Ribbon Pairs, is open to players who have done well in major events or have a lifetime record of success. It has been renamed the Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs to honor the man who made an indelible mark on our game as a player, theorist, journalist and administrator.

Today's deal from a pairs event was one of Kaplan's favorites. North took a flyer when he sacrificed at four spades, but it seemed the defense could get only five tricks: two hearts, a trump (by overruffing dummy on the third heart), a diamond and a club. East-West would be plus 500 points; but if they could have made four hearts for plus 620 points, they'd be stuck with a poor matchpoint score.

When Kaplan, sitting East, saw dummy, he knew West was void in spades; four hearts was likely to succeed, and the defense needed six tricks for a good result. When West cashed two hearts and led a third heart, dummy ruffed--and Kaplan casually discarded a diamond!

South could have gone down one by finessing in trumps, but he assumed East hadn't overruffed because he couldn't. So South led a trump to his ace, hoping to pick off the singleton king with West.

Instead, West showed out; and Kaplan won the next trump, led his last diamond to West's ace and ruffed the diamond return to earn a top score.

1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate