Both vulnerable. South deals. SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST 1 ♦ Pass 1 ♥ Pass 4NT Pass 5 ♦ Pass 6 ♦ Pass Pass Pass NORTH ♠ A7 ♥ 97542 ♦ 7 ♣ K6543 EAST ♠ 9865 ♥ J 10 3 ♦ J53 ♣ J 10 9 SOUTH ♠ 432 ♥ AK ♦ A K Q 10 6 4 2 ♣ A
Opening lead: King of ♠
More contracts are blown at the first trick than at any other time during the play. South’s six diamonds was no exception.
South’s hand was worth a forcing two clubs opening bid. The problem was that it would possibly cost a round of bidding because of North’s likely twodiamond response, and perhaps have the final contract played from the wrong side, so instead South elected one diamond, since holding only 20 high-card points, the auction ending there was unlikely. When North could respond, South chose to launch into Blackwood despite the problem of the spade holding. Had North responded five clubs, denying an ace, South would have settled in five diamonds and hoped there were not three fast losers on the hand. When North showed an ace, however, the small slam was too tempting to ignore.
West led the king of spades. Declarer rose with dummy’s ace, came to hand with the ace of clubs and exited with a spade. West won and returned a trump, and at trick 13 declarer surrendered another spade — down one.
The slam should have been made, and without any brilliant play. All it required was for declarer to allow the king of spades to win the first trick! If West continued with a spade, declarer would win, come to hand with the ace of clubs, ruff the remaining spade in dummy and the slam was cold as long as the knave of trumps was no more than twice guarded.
It would have been no better for West to shift to a diamond at trick two. Declarer would win, draw the remaining trumps, cash the ace of clubs, return to the table with the ace of spades and discard the spade loser on the king of clubs. Either way, 12 tricks were there for the taking.