The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY)

Obstacle course


I’ve heard an “obstacle” defined as what you see if you take your eye off the goal you should be focused on.

It takes four tricks to beat a majorsuit game, but defenders have been known to get distracted. Today’s West led his singleton spade against four hearts, and East won and swiftly returned a spade for his partner to ruff.

After that, the defense faced insurmount­able obstacles. West led a diamond, but South took the ace and forced out East’s ace of trumps. When East led another spade, South ruffed high for safety, drew trumps and ruffed his last diamond in dummy. He threw his jack of clubs on the good king of spades and claimed.


East took his eye off the goal. Since he has the ace of trumps for a fast re-entry, West’s spade ruff can wait. To get four tricks, East leads the queen of clubs at Trick Two.

Declarer wins and leads a trump, but East takes the ace and leads a spade. West ruffs and returns a club, and East wins the setting trick with a ruff.


You hold: A 10 9 8 7 6 A 3 K 10 4 2 Q. Your partner opens one club, you respond one spade and he bids three spades.

What do you say?

You certainly have a small slam. A typical minimum hand for your partner such as K J 5 3, K 4 2, 6, A K J 4 3 will make six spades all but a laydown. Bid 4NT, Blackwood. If partner shows one ace, bid six spades. If he shows two, continue with 5NT, not only asking for kings but suggesting a grand slam.

East dealer

N-S vulnerable

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