Bridge Deal of the Week (February 01 2017)

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Problem

The Auction:

West North East South
  1♣ Pass 2
Pass 3 Pass 3♠
Pass 4♣ Pass 4
Pass 5 Pass 5NT
Pass 6 Pass ?

 

North has opened the auction with 1♣. South responded with 2♥ indicating strength. North showed support in hearts and South started cuebidding showing first round control in spades. North has indicated first round control in clubs, South added first round control in diamonds and North second round control in diamonds.

We offer you to take the South seat and decide – what are you going to bid?

Solution

Should your bid be 6, 7 or even 6NT? You know your side has an 8-card fit in hearts plus first and second round control in hearts, diamonds and clubs and you can ruff spades.

While NT slams can often be played and made instead of suit slams, this doesn’t seem a good idea this time as you have a void in spades. Hearts are your best bet, although you could actually pass as you have a solid suit of diamonds and North indicated second round control in diamonds.

Small slam or grand slam? You don’t know the location of the Q, so 6 seems the most appropriate bid.

West leads the ♠Q. You play a small spade from dummy and so does East, you ruff and win the first trick. You miss the Q and ♣Q, but if the distribution is favorable you could win 5 tricks in diamonds, which offers the possibility to discard.

Next you lead the K (trick 2). Now you have two options with hearts – to cross over to dummy to finesse hearts or to play the A. Although the rule says “eight ever, nine never” – meaning you should finesse the missing queen if you have an 8-card suit – too much is at the stake as you miss the ♣Q also.

So you opt for yet a third way to play and lead a small diamond to dummy’s king, then lead a diamond back to your ace (tricks 3, 4). You lead the Q next, West ruffs with the Q, you discard a spade from dummy (trick 5). West leads the ♠10, you ruff (trick 6).

Now you lead a small diamond and ruff – West discards a small club (trick 7). Then you lead a small club from dummy’s hand to your king, and as you lead a small club to your Ace, West’s ♣Q drops (tricks 8, 9). Now you can draw the trumps by leading the J from dummy, winning the trick with the Ace to be on the safe side – as one of the opponents might have the two remaining hearts – then leading the 10 (tricks 10, 11). You take the last two tricks with the 10 and ♣J.

   K973  
   J94  
   K9  
   AJ105  
 QJ10642 Deal  A85
 Q7  652
 84  J653
 Q63  874
   -  
   AK1083  
   AQ1072  
   K92  

This is quite an interesting slam hand as the success depends on right choices – the declarer must make choices about three probable pitfalls – the missing Q and ♣Q and the distribution of diamonds.

If the declarer had made the decision to play the AK in sequence, so the Q would have dropped – and also guessed the diamond distribution and finessed diamonds – 7 could have been made.

6 would have been difficult as East had four diamonds. West would have led the ♠Q, South ruffed (trick 1), led a small diamond to dummy’s king (trick 2). Next the declarer would have led the 9 from dummy and as thus far no tricks had been lost it is easy to imagine the following scenario – that the declarer plays the 10 and not the A or Q, thus winning the trick and locating the J (trick 3). However the hand would have been far from over yet – to make the contract the declarer would have had to handle the hearts and clubs right, as now he cannot afford to give up lead. If the declarer loses lead and the opponents lead spades, South is forced to ruff and will have only one trump left (while East has two). Thus the right play would have been to lead the A and draw trumps with the AQ (tricks 4, 5, 6). As West (having no trumps left) would probably have discarded two small clubs – leaving the queen unprotected – South could have won four tricks in clubs (tricks 7, 8, 9, 10) ending up in dummy. Then a small heart could have been led from dummy to the K and the rest of the tricks taken with the hearts (11, 12, 13).

If South had bid 6NT, North would probably gone to 7. Notrump slam could only have been successful if the declarer was North, thus giving the opening lead to East and offering the possibility to win the first spades trick with the ♠K. If South would have been playing 6NT and West led the ♠Q, the contract would have gone down.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this deal is 7 by North/South.

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