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Masterpoint Master

Dlr:
East
Vul:
None
North
♠ Q 4
9 7 5 3
8 3 2
♣ K J 6 2
South
♠ A J 8 7
8
A K Q 9 7
♣ A 10 4
West North East South
2 Dbl
Pass 3♣ Pass 3
Pass 4♣ Pass 4
Pass 5 All Pass

Paul Soloway was ACBL’s leading masterpoint holder for more than a decade before his death in 2007. He accumulated more than 65,000 masterpoints — the equivalent of making Life Master 200 times!

You don’t win so many masterpoints without consummate skill, which he demonstrated more
than 30 years ago in winning a major pairs championship.

West led a low heart, and Soloway (sitting South) ruffed the second round of the suit. Figuring West had the ♠K because of East’s weak two-bid, Soloway started off well by leading a low spade toward the queen at trick three. West won the ♠K and continued the suit. Soloway drew exactly two rounds of trumps and cashed the ♠A, pitching a club from dummy. His plan was to avoid guessing which opponent held the ♣Q, but when East discarded a heart on the third round of spades, Soloway correctly deduced that East’s shape was 2-5-2-4.

Soloway might have gone with the odds and played East for the ♣Q — with four clubs to West’s two, East was twice as likely to have the missing honor — but he found a better way.

Soloway knew he could not discard another of dummy’s clubs on the ♠J, then play the top two clubs and ruff a club in dummy. West, known to have only two clubs, would ruff in with the J to defeat the contract. Instead, Soloway played the good ♠J and ruffed with dummy’s last trump. East had to discard a club — a heart pitch would have allowed Soloway to ruff another heart, setting up dummy’s 9 for trick 11.

After ruffing his ♠J in dummy, Soloway ruffed a heart to hand and played his last diamond to put unbearable pressure on East, who was down to three cards, one of which had to be the J.

Once both hands were known to be down to two clubs, Soloway simply cashed the ♣A and the ♣K, not caring which player dropped the queen, which he knew was going to happen.

The full deal:

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