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SOUTH WAS unable to take advantage of a distinctly inferior opening lead on this deal to land what looked to be an impossible slam.

North opened One Spade and South forced with Three Diamonds. Nowadays most players do not force with two-suited hands unless they have a good fit with their partner. As a result of the jump, the bidding became awkwardly high when North supported diamonds and the final contract was Six Diamonds.

If West had led !A, the slam would certainly have failed, but instead he chose his singleton club (with so much in his own hand this strikes me as the height of lunacy - how could he possibly expect his partner to hold the ace?).

It still did not look too promising for declarer in spite of the respite, but he found a good approach when he drew just two rounds of trumps with the king and ace and followed with three more top clubs, discarding hearts from dummy when West was unable to ruff. Then came 4Q, covered by the king, and ducked in dummy.

Now West was end-played - a heart lead would give South his 12th trick with !K, so he tried 49. Now, after winning with dummy's ace and ruffing a spade, the last trump could be drawn with #Q, and the spades were established for two heart discards. West has made a new year's resolution - if he is dealt any aces and is on lead against a slam, he will know what to do in future.

Love all; dealer North


4A 10 8 6 5 2

!Q 2

#K Q 6

2J 7

West East

4K J 9 47 4

!A J 9 8 7 6 5 !10 3

#8 4 #5 3 2

29 210 8 6 4 3 2


4Q 3

!K 4

#A J 10 9 7

2A K Q 5