Bridge Deal of the Week (September 05 2018)

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

East opened the auction with 1♠. South overcalled 2. West  bid 3. Somewhat surprisingly North asked for aces with 4NT. South responded 5♠ (2 keycards and the trump queen). North declared 6

West led the J to dummy´s Ace (trick 1). How can South win 12 tricks?

Dealer: East

Vul: None

Contract: 6 by South


South can count on five tricks with diamonds and two with spade. Two hearts from hand could be ruffed in dummy. But a club feel uncomfortable – if East holds the ♣AQ, two tricks will be lost.

As the lead was in dummy now, the declarer led the ♠9 to the ♠K and cashed in the ♠A next (tricks 2, 3). Judged by the auction West had a long suit of hearts. The declarer led a small heart and ruffed in dummy. Bingo, East`s K dropped (trick 4) and this meant the distribution of suits was extraordinary – West had started life with seven hearts, and had two spades. At the same time East had a 5-card suit of spades and two hearts. How were diamonds and clubs split and who held the missing ♣AQ?

East had to have at least the ♣ A and the ♠QJ besides the K – as East had the cheek to open. But surely West couldn`t have responded with only 1 HCP?

The declarer led the K from dummy. East played as small diamond and West discarded a heart (trick 5). This meant West had four hearts and four clubs now, while East held three more diamonds.

South led the 8 from dummy and as East played a smaller diamond, ducked (trick 6). West discarded the ♣8, probably a signal. South led dummy´s last diamond and won the trick in hand with the 10, as East played the 9 (trick 7). West discarded the ♣3.

Now the declarer led the ♣6. West played the ♣3. But West had to have an honor in clubs, judged by the auction and the discarded ♣8. The declarer played the ♣J from dummy. East won the trick with the ♣A (trick 8) and led a club back.  West`s ♣Q dropped under dummy`s King (trick 9).

But East had one more diamond, so South had to lead a spade from dummy and ruff (trick 10). Next South led the A (trick 11), cashed in the Q (trick 12) and led the last, winner club (trick 13).

  ♠ 9763  
  ♣ KJ94  
♠ 54 Deal ♠ QJ1082
J1097652 K4
- J953
♣ Q1083 ♣ A7
  ♠ AK  
  ♣ 652  

With this type of hand North / South would usually find themselves playing a 3NT contract (which can be made with two overtricks) after East opening the auction with 1♠, South overcalling 1NT and North declaring 3NT. But as South decided to overcall with 2, North / South found a diamond fit and went for a small slam.

The declarer couldn`t use crossruffing as East held four diamonds and thus South needed to retain at least four diamonds on longer side not to lose trump control.

Still the contract of 6 could be successfully made only when the declarer won the extra trick with clubs. There were two possibilities for winning that extra trick – either to play the ♣9 from dummy the first time clubs were led, which would have been sufficient to make East play the ♣A. But this would have been too much to ask from anyone playing a small slam – if East would have held the ♣AQ or A10, South would have lost two tricks immediately.

So South stalled playing clubs and this tactic was successful, as West discarded two clubs and South managed to win an extra trick with clubs.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this deal is 6 by North / South.

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