Independent Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
SOUTH'S LINE of play in his slam contract on this deal went some way towards improving his chances but it was not quite good enough. There was, in fact, a 100 per cent route to success.

South opened One Club and North forced with Two Spades. Unwilling to rebid his bad suit, in spite of its length, if a slam was in the offering, South temporised with Two No-trumps. He was re-assured when North now bid Three Clubs, showing that his force had been based on a club fit. Well, South had excellent controls in the red suits and they soon reached Six Clubs against which West led 2Q.

The 3-0 trump break was irritating, but there were still plenty of chances. As you can see, a simple spade finesse would work - like the heart finesse, a 50 per cent chance - but the slightly better play of a ruffing finesse in the suit does not. Instead declarer drew a second round of trumps, cashed 4A,K, and ruffed a spade. In this way he would be home if 4Q fell in three and, if it did not, there would still be time to try the heart finesse. Nothing behaved, and the slam failed.

Declarer was certainly right to start by playing a second trump and cashing 4A,K but now he should play off his winning diamonds and, if West has not been able to ruff, throw him in with his master trump. On lead, West would have the unappetising choices of conceding a ruff and discard, leading a heart into South's tenace, or playing a spade when, whoever held 4Q, a spade trick would be established in dummy for a heart discard.

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