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The Independent Culture
THERE WAS an amusing side to this deal from match play. At one table West got off to a dangerous lead only to find that it succeeded in a way that he could hardly have anticipated. At both tables the bidding was the same - South opened 2NT and North raised directly to 6NT (surely a quantitative 4NT would have been enough?). One West made the natural lead of +2 against the slam and declarer had very little choice but to pin all his hopes on the spade finesse. When East proved to hold ]K it was all over and North's optimism had paid off.

The other West decided to lead his ace of hearts. There is something to be said for leading aces against slams that have been bid in this leapy-jumpy fashion (perhaps West hoped to find his partner with the king of hearts?) but on this deal it simply gave declarer two tricks in the suit instead of just one. There was, however, a curious side- effect, for South now found himself looking at eleven top tricks and the thought that the spade finesse might no longer be necessary. There was the possibility of either opponent holding both ]K and the length in diamonds. So South played off his ace of spades (a Vienna coup), cashed his heart winners, and ran the clubs, discarding ]QJ from hand. As you can see, neither defender was at all embarrassed and the slam failed.

Everybody likes to make a slam on a squeeze, but surely South's judgement was at fault here. If West held ]K as well as _A, he could hardly have hoped to find his partner with _K. The spade finesse was right.