Bridge

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The Independent Culture
GRAND SLAM hands can be gripping. This one comes from a qualifying session of the Ladies' Pairs at the Generali European Bridge Championships, held in Malta in June. Nearly all pairs bid a slam, but the top spot was Seven No-trumps, reached by a number of partnerships.

Most Easts opened the bidding with One Diamond and many Souths intervened with a weak Two Spades bid. Nowadays many players include weak jump overcalls in their defensive bidding armoury, especially at favourable vulnerability, as they take valuable bidding space away from their opponents.

As the cards lie, as long as declarer cashes all her red suit winners, South is squeezed in the black suits.

At one table, with West as declarer, North led the nine of spades, which went to the ten, jack and ace. Declarer cashed just one heart before running all her diamonds. South could safely discard three spades, retaining Q 7 in spades and all four clubs. West now played a club to her queen and cashed the king of spades, followed by the ace and king of clubs. When the jack didn't appear declarer returned to hand with the ace of hearts, but now South was able to throw her jack of clubs and keep her queen of spades, and North to hold her queen of hearts, so the grand slam failed.

You can see what declarer was attempting: a heart-club squeeze on North, reasonable in the light of the bidding. But she could still have catered for both possibilities by cashing her ace of hearts earlier.

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