Both vulnerable. South deals. NORTH ♠ AKJ743 ♥ Q8 ♦ A4 ♣ A83 WEST ♠ 9 ♥ J 10 9 7 5 3 ♦ 10 6 3 2 ♣ 10 5 EAST ♠ 2 ♥ K6 ♦ K975 ♣ QJ9642 SOUTH ♠ Q 10 8 6 5 ♥ A42 ♦ QJ8 ♣ K7
The bidding: SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST 1 ♠ Pass 2NT* Pass 4 ♠ ** Pass 4NT Pass 5 ♦ Pass 6 ♠ All pass *Game forcing spade raise **Balanced minimum
Opening lead: Jack of ♥
Six spades is a sound contract, needing only for West to hold one of the red suit kings. The jack of hearts lead was covered by the queen, king and ace. One chance gone. Declarer drew two rounds of trumps, ending in his hand, and took the diamond finesse. South conceded down one when that king was also with East.
Declarer was certainly unlucky, but he could have done better. Can you spot how? West was unlikely to be leading a heart away from the king on a power auction like this.
South would have done better to play East for the king of hearts and hope it was singleton or doubleton. The winning line is to play low from dummy at trick one, draw the trumps and eliminate the clubs by cashing the ace-king and ruffing the third round. South can then exit with a heart to the queen. East wins but has no heart to play, so he is forced to yield a ruff-sluff or lead a diamond and the slam sails home.
Note that success was not completely dependent on East having a doubleton king of hearts — that was merely an extra chance. Should East have a safe heart to exit with, declarer can always fall back on the diamond finesse. Bob Jones welcome readers’ responses sent to Tribune Content Agency, LLC., 16650 Westgrove Dr., Suite 175, Addison, TX 75001. Email responses may be sent