N-S vulnerable


{spade} Q 5

{heart} 9 6 4 3

{diam} 7 6 3

{club} K 9 6 4


{spade} J 9 6 4

{heart} 8 7

{diam} A J 9 4

{club} A J 7


{spade} 8 7 3

{heart} Q

{diam} K Q 10 8 5 2

{club} 10 5 3


{spade} A K 10 2

{heart} A K J 10 5 2

{diam} None

{club} Q 8 2

The bidding:EastSouthWestNorth2{diam}Dbl5{diam}PassPass5{heart}Pass6{heart}All Pass Opening lead: {diam} A

Dave Berkowitz helped his team triumph in the Vanderbilt Teams at the ACBL Spring Championships, but he had reason to be dissatisfied after today's deal.

East-West preempted, forcing Berkowitz to bid his long suit at the level of five. North boldly raised to slam, against which West led the ace of diamonds.

Berkowitz ruffed with the jack of trumps and cashed the ace, dropping East's queen. He then saw that if the spades produced four tricks, all would be well: He could discard two clubs from dummy and ruff a club in dummy for the 12th trick. But Berkowitz feared West might have J-x-x-x in spades since East would be unlikely to open two diamonds with four cards in a major suit.

So Berkowitz led a trump to dummy's nine, ruffed a diamond high, led a club to the king and ruffed a diamond high. He led a spade to the queen and cashed two trumps, throwing a club. He was left with the A-K-10 of spades and the bare queen of clubs. West, with room for four cards, had to keep the ace of clubs and three spades. Berkowitz then led a club, and when West took the ace, he had to lead a spade to South's holding.

Why was declarer dissatisfied? I cannot tell a lie. In the actual deal East's spades were J-7-3, so the dummy reversal-and-squeeze was unnecessary: South could easily take six hearts, four spades, a club and a club ruff in dummy. A player's effort must be judged not by the result but by how he conceived the play. In that regard, Berkowitz gets a gold star.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services