If you smell a slam, investigate it
I Giuseppe Verdi, an Italian composer, said, “You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” This week, we are looking at slam bidding. In Italy, it is considered the greatest crime of the game to miss a slam. If there is the faintest aroma of a slam wafting around the table, Italians will dabble their toes in the slam waters -- as South did in this deal from that European country.
After North made a game-invitational limit raise, South was optimistic in making any sort of slam suggestion. He had six losers (two spades, three hearts and one diamond), which suggested settling for game. (With only five losers, it would have been reasonable to make a control-bid.) Here, though, South, after making a fourclub control-bid and hearing North cooperate with a four-diamond control-bid, signed off in four spades, announcing to partner, the opponents and the bartender that he did not have a heart control. As North lacked one as well, he passed.
West, not deaf to the auction, led the heart six. East won with his jack (bottom of touching honors when playing third hand high), cashed his ace and king, then led his last heart. What should South have done? Who had the spade queen? The clue was East’s initial pass. If he had the spade queen as well as all those heart honors, he surely would have opened the bidding. So South ruffed the fourth heart with his spade ace, then ran the spade jack through West. When the finesse worked, declarer took a second spade finesse, drew West’s last trump, and claimed.