Bridge: To achieve the impossible slam . . .

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The Independent Culture
A PRE-EMPTIVE opening bid by East and excitable bidding by both North and South led to what at first sight appeared to be an impossible grand slam.

Once declarer had been unable to make an early claim, East was quietly confident but he was in for a disappointment.

Game all; dealer East


A 9 7 3

J 3 2


J 6


J 8 2

9 5

10 6 5 3

7 5 3 2


K 10 5

A K Q 10 8 7 6 4

8 4



Q 6 4


9 7 2

A K Q 10 9 8 4

East opened Four Hearts and South aggressively overcalled with Five Clubs. North bid Five Diamonds - a cue-bid agreeing clubs rather than an attempt to find another trump suit. Having stretched his values considerably on the first round, South was surely not worth his next effort of Five Hearts. This was enough for North, who jumped to Seven Clubs.

West led the nine of hearts and there appeared to be only 12 tricks available unless the king of spades was singleton. There was, however, another possibility - that East held the king of spades (even if guarded) with his top hearts.

After ruffing the heart lead, South played off just five rounds of trumps, discarding three spades from dummy. East had no trouble in discarding hearts but, when declarer followed with dummy's four top diamonds, he found himself caught in an unusual squeeze.

At the end dummy held S A H J3 and declarer S Q6 C 8, while East had to find a discard from S K10 H AK. If he threw a spade dummy's ace would drop his king and South's hand would be high; if he parted with a heart, a heart ruff would establish dummy's jack.

As East commented sadly afterwards, if he had only given North- South more bidding space, they might easily have decided against bidding the grand slam.