The Grand National Open Teams (GNOT) and Pairs events took place in Tweed Heads at the end of November. Although the Southern Tasmania team finished in the middle of the field, it was a creditable performance given the number of opposition teams from the mainland cities. However, both pairs in the team produced excellent performances in the IMP Pairs events. In the GNOT Swiss pairs, Darryl Smith and Phil Beck finished first in the category of provincial players and eighth overall. In the Australian Flitch Championship, for pairs who are life partners as well as bridge partners, Rob and Jayne Tyson were second. The tournament used the same hands for all events taking place at the same time so all pairs were confronted with the bidding problem shown below (rotated for convenience). When South opens 1S, the fit is found immediately but can you reach the grand slam?
The difficulty is that South has most of their values opposite North’s heart shortage. Most of the field bid to 6S with less than 25% reaching 7S. Jane and Rob bid as shown. In response to Jacoby, South upgraded the hand to 17-19 because of shape and controls. There then followed a series of cue bids (first round first) and 5NT was a trump ask. When South showed one of the top three, North bid the grand slam for a great score!
Darryl and Phil were fortunate to have opponents who were not so enterprising in the auction and only reached 6S which was the datum score. The play of the hand is simple and just requires ruffing two hearts and discarding the other two. Even if trumps are 3-0 this can be done safely before drawing the third trump.
Although 7NT might make, it will always fail on a club lead. I will leave the play as a puzzle noting that there are only twelve tricks: that is you are one trick short and that implies looking for a squeeze.