The first weekend of the 2017 Home Countries tournament for the Camrose Trophy took place in a charming Warwickshire hotel and featured an array of brilliancies and blunders. As usual, the latter outweighed the former (I was as much to blame as the next player).
Our first Camrose deal is a grand slam (although many pairs settled for Six).
West found the best lead for the defence of a Spade, removing a dummy entry prematurely. Declarer was, naturally, unwilling to risk the finesse. He counted 11 top tricks (assuming Diamonds split no worse than three-one). The twelfth would come from a Heart ruff in dummy and the thirteenth, he hoped, would come from a long Club.
Winning the Ace of Spades, declarer crossed to the Ace-king of Diamonds (East discarding a Heart on the second, exposing the threeone split). Leaving West’s Knave of Diamonds out, declarer cashed the Ace of Clubs, crossed to the Ace of Hearts and ruffed a Club. He crossed to the King of Hearts and ruffed a third Club, both opponents following, but no King appearing.
Declarer ruffed a third Heart and was committed to ruffing a fourth Club (unable to take a Spade finesse, being in dummy), hoping West held the King (if East held it, West would be overruffing). Phew— East discarded on the fourth Club, so declarer could ruff (low), cash the Queen of Diamonds, drawing West’s Knave and discarding dummy’s Knave of Spades, then, at trick 12, lead over to the King of Spades to enjoy the Queen of Clubs. Grand slam made.
It would be harsh to say that our second Camrose deal was a blunder (by declarer); more the lack of a brilliancy.
West led the King of Spades to dummy’s bare Ace. The unfortunate Club blockage created problems for declarer. He crossed to the bare Ace of Clubs and ruffed a second Spade, pleased to see East follow (he expected East to have a second Spade, for with KingQueen-knave-ten seven times, would not West have bid Four Spades?). He cashed the King of Clubs, discarding a Diamond then led the Queen of Clubs, discarding his other Diamond.
West ruffed and tried to cash the Ace of Diamonds. Declarer ruffed and tried to ruff a third Spade with the ten of Hearts. East overruffed with the Knave, exited with a Diamond, and declarer had to lose a Spade and the Queen of Hearts. Down one.
Let us replay. Declarer knows (from West’s Three Spade bid) that he can ruff at most one Spade in dummy, so he should cash a top Heart early on, in the hope that West began with a singleton.
After winning the Ace of Spades and crossing to the Ace of Clubs, he cashes the Ace of Hearts (key play). He then ruffs a Spade and cashes the King-queen of Clubs, discarding Diamonds, with West unable to ruff as his Heart has been removed.
Declarer leads a fourth (winning Club) and when (say) East ruffs with the Knave, he can either overruff or discard another Spade. Ten tricks are secure.