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ALL THE pairs ended in a heart slam on this deal - half stopping in the small slam, half going on to Seven Hearts. It is always dubious tactics to bid a grand slam in a pairs event (unless there are about 14 top tricks). There is not time for over-careful planning and, often, making the overtrick in the small slam will score nearly as many match points.

Game all; dealer North


S K 7 4

H A J 10 7

D 10

C A J 9 8 2


9 8 5 2

5 2

Q 9 7 6 5 3



J 6

9 8 6

8 2

K Q 10 7 6 3


A Q 10 3

K Q 4 3

A K J 4


If West chose a diamond or, less likely, a spade for his opening lead, South found himself looking at 11 top winners. Several declarers decided that the best way to try for two more tricks was to ruff two clubs in hand, the first low, the second high. In that way, they reasoned, they would be able to cope comfortably with a possible 4-1 trump break.

This plan misfired immediately when, to declarer's horror, the club ruff with the three of trumps was over-ruffed with the five. Furthermore, declarers who attempted any form of cross-ruff were doomed to failure.

The play was most difficult when the opening lead was a trump, giving nothing away. This happened against me, in the Seven Hearts that we had acrobatically reached. There were a bewildering number of possibilities - could the clubs be established? Would the jack of spades come down in three? Was the diamond finesse right?

I started off by winning in hand and, after the ace of clubs, ruffing a club low. Disaster, do you think? Not at all. West had led the apparently useless five of trumps instead of the two. After crossing to the king of spades, another club ruff gave me 13 tricks when the jack of spades fell. Moral? Always lead your lowest trump against a grand slam]