Bridge: That elusive contract

BOTH the best final contract (Six Spades) and the best play proved curiously elusive on this recent deal, so South recorded a minus score in his diamond slam.

East - West game; dealer South



K Q 4

8 7 6 3

A 7 5



J 10 9 8 5 3 2


10 9 8 2


J 9 8 7

A 7 6

J 9 5 4



6 5 4 3 2


A K Q 10

K 6 4 3

South's first problem lay in the choice of opening bid. If he opened One Spade, showing a five-card suit, he would be faced with a rebid problem in the event of a Two Heart response. Hoping to introduce his spades later, he opened One Diamond. North temporised with Two Clubs and South raised to Three Clubs. The spade suit was lost and the final contract was Six Diamonds.

West led the jack of hearts to the queen and ace and South ruffed. Two top trumps revealed a loser in the suit and declarer tried the spades, but again the news was bad. South came to hand with a third round of trumps and ruffed a spade to establish the six, but it did not help and he ended with only 11 tricks.

A loser-on-loser play would have saved the day. Declarer should discard a club on the first heart lead, losing the trick but keeping control. Suppose East switches to clubs - after winning in dummy, two top trumps expose the position. Next come dummy's top spades and the marked trump finesse. A spade is ruffed on the table and the king of hearts cashed to discard another club. Now the king of clubs provides an entry to hand to draw the last trick and South can cash his six of spades at trick 13.