The bidding: North East South West
1 ♣ Pass 1 ♥ Pass 2 ♠ Pass 3 ♥ Pass 3NT Pass 6 ♥ Opening lead — five of spades. . A fine declarer hopes for the best but prepares for the worst. Today’s hand is a typical example. Assume you’re in six hearts and West leads a spade. As soon as dummy comes down, you see that the only significant threat to the slam is that one defender was dealt four trumps to the A-10, about a 1-in-4 probability.
You therefore adjust your thinking to that possibility. If West has the A-10-x-x, you are doomed whatever you do, so you assume East has them. Ordinarily, East would score two trump tricks with such a holding, but if you play your cards right, you can limit him to one trump trick. From the start you must play to shorten yourself in trumps, so after winning the spade lead with the ace, you immediately ruff a spade. You then lead a trump to dummy’s jack. Let’s say East wins with the ace and returns a diamond — as good a defence as any. You win in dummy and ruff another spade, then lead the king of trumps, on which West shows out. Your earlier preparations for a trump coup are now richly rewarded. You still have the Q-97 of trumps left over East’s 108, and, to coup him, you simply have to equalise your trump length with his. You therefore lead a club to the ten and ruff dummy’s last spade as East discards his last diamond. Next you cross to dummy with a club and then play your club winners. It does not matter whether East ruffs now or later; his 10-8 of trumps either immediately or eventually succumb to your Q-9. .
Next Hand — South dealer Both sides vulnerable NORTH
♠ A 10 2 ♥ 953 ♦ J763 ♣ A 10 7 WEST EAST
♠ 9763 ♠ K85 ♥J 874♥A K 1062 ♦ 985 ♦ Q 10 4 ♣ 62 ♣ 94 SOUTH
♠ QJ4 ♥Q♦ AK2 ♣ KQJ853 The bidding: South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 ♦ 1 ♥ 3 ♣ Pass 4 ♣ Pass 5 ♣ Opening lead — four of hearts.