THE 53rd European Championships were nearing the end. The England Open Team had largely disappointed. The hopes of a medal gone, we were now struggling to finish in the top seven (out of the 37 competing countries) and a place in the World Championships. This wellbid grand slam by Denmark dented our chances.
How would you play Seven Spades (a) on a passive Spade lead and (b) on a Heart lead? (1) More helpful than Two Hearts. after all, there is no chance partner has four cards in Hearts unless he has five cards in spades (he’d respond the cheaper One Heart with four-four in the majors). (2) Roman Keycard Blackwood agreeing spades. (3) Two of ‘five aces’ (including the King of spades) plus the Queen of spades. (4) confirming all the keycards and inviting a grand slam (partner can show how many Kings he holds, if he’s unsure). (5) Maximum shapely hand for his simple raise to Two spades. One of his two Queens should prove useful.
The English West was understandably loath to lead his singleton Heart. Partner was not going to hold the Ace and might hold a finesseable Queen or similar. He led a Spade.
Declarer now demonstrated how to make Seven Spades without taking any finesses. He won the Ace of Spades, then, at trick two, crossed to the Ace of Clubs and ruffed a Club. He cashed the Ace of Diamonds and ruffed a Diamond. He ruffed a third Club and was very pleased to see both opponents follow (low) to reveal the four-three split. He ruffed a Diamond and ruffed a fourth Club. He now drew trumps, cashed his King of Diamonds and crossed to the Ace of Hearts to cash the long Club (the Queen), discarding his second Heart. Grand slam made.
If West had kicked off with his singleton Heart, declarer’s late entry to the fifth Club is gone. There is now just one winning line. Win the Ace of Hearts, cross to a Spade and lead a Club to the Queen, a necessary risk. When it wins (phew), cash the Ace of Clubs, discarding your second Heart, and ruff your two Diamonds in dummy.
My partner Tony Forrester tackled this Five Diamonds nicely in that same Denmark match.
West kicked off with the Ace of Hearts and switched at trick two to the nine of Spades, declarer winning the King. At trick two, declarer led the Queen of Clubs, West winning the Ace and returning the ten to declarer’s King.
Declarer knew 12 of West’s cards—five cards in each major plus two Clubs. Reasoning that if West held just five Spades, East would have four and might have ventured a Three Spade bid, declarer played West for his actual 6-5-0-2 shape.
He ruffed a third Club (as West discarded). He then led the Knave of Diamonds, intending to run it. In fact, East covered with the King, declarer winning the Ace.
All over bar the shouting, declarer ruffed a fourth Club, ran the nine of Diamonds, cashed the Ace of Spades, ruffed himself back to hand, cashed the Queen of Diamonds felling East’s ten and claimed his game.