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Alvin’s Roth Famous Hand

by Steve Becker for Reading Eagle – Jun 21, 2004

This gem was played by the legendary Alvin Roth in the National Men’s Pair Championship many years ago. The slam is not easy to make even with all four hands exposed, but Roth managed the task without this advantage and wound up with the requisite 12 tricks.

roth 1

He won the diamond lead with dummy jack and played a low spade to the ten. When the finesse succeeded, Roth cashed the king of spades and A, K, Q.

East In the meantime, was forced to discard three hearts, since he could not spare a spade or club. Diagnosing the situation perfectly, Roth next played a low heart from dummy. He could have cashed the ace of spades instead to learn whether the suit was divided 3-3, but he felt strongly that it was not.

On the heart lead, East had to play the queen, and South’s king lost to West’s ace, establishing dummy’s jack as a trick.

By this time, the original situation had changed radically. Roth, who had begun with only nine top tricks, was now up to 11. The 12th trick came soon after, because this was the position:

roth 1

West returned a club, won by the king. When the jack of hearts was next cashed, East was squeezed. He could not spare a spade or a club and whichever he chose, Roth had the rest of the tricks and his slam.



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