South reached a position on this deal where he could have made his slam, but he took the wrong view in the ending. He had overlooked a simpler line that would have eliminated guesswork.

Playing a 15-17 point no-trump, South opened 1! and West overcalled with 2#. I would have thought that 4! would be a practical call for North, but apparently this would have been pre-emptive and North felt constrained to start with 3#, agreeing hearts. With his fine controls, South pushed on and the final contract was 6!.

West led the #K against the slam and, with only 11 top winners, it looked as though the contract would depend on the club finesse. Judging (correctly) that this would be wrong after West's vulnerable overcall, South set out to try for an end play. He won the opening lead, drew trumps, cashed his three spare tricks to discard a diamond from dummy, then ran the rest of his trumps.

West chose his discards with care, for he could see what was coming.

First he parted with his three low clubs (!), then followed with #7, #10 and #J.

Convinced that West had come down to #Q, 2K,x, declarer threw him in with a diamond and waited for the forced club return. It came, but not until West had taken two tricks with #Q and his carefully concealed #9.

Certainly South could have succeeded if he had read the end position but, once he had decided to play West for 2K, there was a much easier play.

After drawing trumps, declarer simply discards 2J (not a diamond) on his third spade winner. Then a ruffing finesse in clubs against West's king brings in the 12th trick.

Game all; dealer South


4Q 8

!A Q J 7 4 2

#8 4 2

2Q J

West East

410 9 4J 7 5 4 3 2

!5 !8 3

#K Q J 10 9 7 #5

2K 4 3 2 28 7 6 5


4A K 6

!K 10 9 6

#A 6 3

2A 10 9