Bridge

Country Life Every Week - - Crossword | Bridge - An­drew Rob­son

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.

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