BRIDGE / The partner who plays perfectly

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THE tension always mounts when a grand slam has been reached. Even if you have a tempting alternative, a trump lead (assuming your opponents know what they are doing) is often best. On this deal from the recent Marbella tournament, it certainly gave declarer a few problems.

Game all; dealer North


A Q 7 6 5

K 8 6

A J 7 4



10 8 3

4 3

K Q 10 9 5 2

Q 3


K J 9 4

5 2

8 6

J 9 6 5 4



A Q J 10 9 7


A K 10 8 7

As North, I opened One Spade and South responded Two Hearts. My rebid was Four Clubs - a splinter, showing the values for a raise to Four Hearts and a club shortage. Now South bid Four No- trumps (Roman Key Card Blackwood) and my response of Five Clubs showed either no aces (unthinkable on the bidding) or three, counting the king of trumps as an ace. Not unnaturally, South went on to Seven Hearts.

Suppose West had led the king of diamonds? Now it is easy for declarer to come to 13 tricks with a complete cross- ruff. In reality, West led a trump and there were problems. The ace of clubs and a club ruff brought an ominous queen from West. The ace of diamonds, a diamond ruff and another club ruff revealed the bad club break.

After coming back to hand with a diamond ruff, declarer played off her remaining trumps and the king of clubs. West had to keep his queen of diamonds and came down to only one spade - East had to retain his jack of clubs and so had to bare his king of spades.

The position was clear and a spade to the ace dropped East's king. 'Very well played indeed,' I enthused. One can hardly say less when partnering one's wife . . . .