Independent Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
EAST'S OPERATIONS on this deal from match play are worth noting. At one point he was on the brink of earning a small gain, but South took up the challenge and, only after an unimaginative lead, restored the balance.

North opened Three Hearts and, after a pass by East, South bid 5NT - the grand slam force. Holding two of the top three honours in his suit, North bid Seven Hearts. That would have been an easy contract but it was not the end of the auction. East, at favourable vulnerability, speculated with Seven Spades! If the defence had got it right (by cashing one club and then playing three rounds of hearts to promote South's 4J), the penalty would have been 1,700 points. If you must concede a telephone number, 1,700 is better then 2,210!

South, however, was not prepared to relinquish his grand slam bonus and fought on with 7NT. All passed and West led 43. Obviously there would have been no problem if the clubs broke, but declarer took a wise precaution that paid off. After winning East's 4Q with his ace, he cashed #A (a Vienna coup) before running the hearts. At the end West, with #K 2J 10 9 3 left, was forced to unguard one of the suits, and the grand slam rolled in.

East's effort deserved a better fate. His partner's lead of 43 was really rather wooden - there is no point in trying to establish tricks when you are defending against a grand slam, and, obviously, South was fully prepared for a spade lead.

Suppose West had chosen the completely safe lead of 2J? There would have been an unexpected bonus - for this would have cut the North-South communications, and now no squeeze would have been possible. Whatever the relative merits of minus 2,210 and minus 1,700, plus 100 would have been much better.

North-South game; dealer North


44 2

!A Q J 10 8 6 3

#Q 6 4


West East

410 6 3 4K Q 9 8 7 5

!9 5 !7 4

#K J 8 2 #10 9 5 3

2J 10 9 3 25


4A J

!K 2

#A 7

2A K Q 8 7 6 4