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The Independent Culture
IT WAS a fair bet to reach the small slam in hearts on this deal and, in a recent pairs event, about half the field got there. As far as I can judge, no two declarers followed the same line of play, and most failed. One thing was certain - at every table the play seemed to take a long, long time.

The usual lead against Six Hearts was #Q. Declarers who tried to ruff two diamonds in dummy were in trouble, whether or not they had taken one successful finesse in trumps first. Another line was to draw trumps in three rounds and rely on an even break in spades. This at least offered an overtrick if the spades behaved, but it did not work.

Perhaps the key point to have kept in mind was that by no means would all of the North-South pairs reach a slam. In other words, the possibility of an overtrick was of no great importance, but it would be vital to maximise the chance of success.

The solitary declarer who came to all of the match-points, won the diamond lead and ran !Q successfully. Then he followed with the 10, which was also allowed to win. (If West covers, !7 becomes an extra entry to the table.) Then, quite simply, he drew the last trump to reach a critical point. Scorning the possibility of an overtrick, he ducked a round of spades completely. Now he was able to win the return of a club or a diamond in hand and follow with the two top spades and a spade ruff - giving him his 12 tricks. Yes, West might have led a club instead of a diamond initially but now tackling spades immediately and ruffing the third round with!10 would have led to success.

Game all; dealer South


4A K 6 4 3

!A 7 3

#8 5

2A 4 2

West East

4J 5 4Q 10 9 7

!K 6 4 !9 2

#Q J 9 6 2 #10 4

2J 10 8 2Q 9 6 5 3


48 2

!Q J 10 8 5

#A K 7 3

2K 7