"It required careful thought to find a way of going down in Six Spades," South remarked at the end of play, "but I found it. Never mind, we bid it well." He was not being offensive - he was referring to his own play.

South opened One Spade and North, with his fine fit, controls and attractive distribution, forced to game with Three Clubs. South rebid his spades and North tried Four Hearts. As he would not, in the modern style, have forced with an ill-fitting two-suited hand, no matter how strong, this agreed spades and showed a control. South was happy to cooperate with Five Diamonds and the final contract was Six Spades against which West led #K.

Given that the contract failed, I expect you can guess how the play went. After winning with #A and drawing trumps, declarer ran 210, to lose to East's singleton jack. He ruffed the diamond return in dummy and played off 2A to discover the 5-1 break. The clubs were now useless and, when his last resort of the heart finesse failed, so did the slam.

His safest play, after winning the lead and drawing trumps, would have been to cash 2A before doing anything else with the club suit. As it happens, the jack falls and there are no further problems, but suppose both opponents follow small. Declarer comes to hand with a trump and leads 210. If West follows low, the ten is run, and if East wins, a long club can be established by ruffing, for the suit can be no worse than 4-2. If West shows out on 210, East is allowed to win his jack and a ruffing finesse can then be taken against his king. In fact, South will be home and dry whatever the club distribution.

East-West game; dealer South


4Q 10 9 8 7

!A Q


2A Q 9 8 4

West East

42 45

!J 6 4 !K 9 8 7 3 2

#K Q J 9 #10 8 7 4 3

2K 7 6 5 3 2J


4A K J 6 4 3

!10 5

#A 6 2

210 2