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Love all; dealer South


4 K J 7 2

! A K J

# 8 7 6 3

2 Q 7

West East

4 A 8 3 4 10 9 6 5

! 10 8 5 3 ! 9 7 6 2

# 5 4 2 # J

2 K 6 3 2 J 9 4 2


4 Q 4

! Q 4

# A K Q 10 9

2 A 10 8 5

South failed to make his slam on this deal and two questions arose. Was declarer's line of play reasonable? And did West find the most punishing opening lead?

South opened One Diamond, North bid One Spade, and South rebid Two Clubs. The rot started when North over-elaborated with a fourth bid of Two Hearts (instead of a simple Three No-trumps) and the final contract was a shaky Six Diamonds against which West led a trump.

Declarer drew trumps in three rounds, crossed to dummy with a heart and led a low spade. His queen lost to the ace and there was no way to avoid an eventual club loser.

You can see South's plan. If East had held the ace of spades (and there were no clues as to where it lay), the losing spade could be discarded on a heart and the club losers restricted to one.

There was a flaw in South's reasoning. It would not have helped to find the ace of spades with East! A smart defender would go in with his ace on the first round and play a second heart, removing dummy's entry while the spades were still blocked. Therefore South should have tried a low spade from hand rather than dummy, playing West for the ace.

Finally, an initial heart lead would have defeated the slam - as long as West plays his ace when South leads a spade and continues hearts.