WE feature two slams this week from rubber bridge (actually, Chicago, but same thing really) at £30 per hundred. It need hardly be said that mistakes would be very expensive.
Dealer South Neither vulnerable
with his Heart (of course, West really won it). Slam made.
Declarer had a blind spot on our second deal, a grand slam. (1) Rule of 20 opener—the highcard points in the hand added to the number of cards in the two longest suits reaching 20. (2) No need to rush. North goes slowly to hear his partner’s natural rebid. (3) May continue to progress slowly. However, the vast majority of the time, partner will hold six Diamonds for the repeat, so the practical jump to Six Diamonds has much going for it. Here, South has only five (good ones, mind), but Six Diamonds is the only makeable slam.
West led his singleton ten of Hearts, declarer winning dummy’s King and crossing to his AceKing-queen of Diamonds, hoping for a three-three split and 12 top tricks. He threw a Club from dummy on the third and watched East also discard (a Heart). It appears that declarer is a trick short, but watch.
Declarer cashed the Queen of Spades and crossed to the Aceking-knave, hoping that West would follow all the way (a necessary requirement for success, given that he had four Diamonds). He did follow. Declarer had thrown a Club and a Heart from hand and now cashed the Ace of Clubs and ruffed a Club. He then led up a second Heart.
It would do West no good to ruff in front of dummy, so he discarded a Club. Declarer won dummy’s Ace and ruffed a third Club with his last trump.
Declarer had garnered the first 12 tricks, leaving both opponents (in a sense) to score the last trick, West with his trump and East
Dealer South North-south vulnerable
Declarer won West’s King of Diamonds opening lead with dummy’s Ace. He drew trumps, then hurriedly cashed three rounds of Spades to discard his Diamond loser. He cashed the Ace of Clubs (in case of a singleton Queen), ruffed a Diamond back to hand, then led up a second Club. It was the percentage play at this point to finesse dummy’s Knave and that is what declarer did. Down one, when East scooped up the trick with his Queen.
You couldn’t blame declarer for preferring the Club finesse at the point he had reached. His mistake had come earlier. Instead of discarding a Diamond on dummy’s third Spade, he should have discarded a Club. He now plays Aceking of Clubs. Here, the Queen falls and he is home. More likely, the Queen will not fall.
Declarer now ruffs a third Club, hoping for a 3–3 split. If that proves to be the case, he can cross to dummy and cash the long Club, discarding his losing Diamond.
Playing the recommended way succeeds when the Queen of Clubs falls in three rounds, better than the 50–50 Club finesse. Only just mind, which is why declarer is entitled to feel somewhat aggrieved that he had turned a potential +2,210 into –100— a swing of £700-odd. (1) Weak two, so much more frequent than the traditional, stronger variety. Do you play them? You really should. (2) Not guaranteed, but just the King of Hearts and Queen of Clubs opposite will yield 13 top tricks.