Wednesday 03 June 1998
4A Q 9 7 5
!10 9 4
#5 4 2
4J 10 6 3 4K 8 4 2
!K Q J 8 3 2 !7 6 5
#7 3 #Q J 10 9
22 27 4
#A K 8 6
2A K Q J 10 9 8 3
You must feel sorry for South on this deal from a teams match. South opened Two Clubs and West overcalled with Two Hearts. After two passes (North did not rate his hand to be worth a positive response) South bid Three Clubs. Now North showed his spades and, without the machinery to explore in detail, South jumped to Six Clubs and all passed.
West led !K against the slam and, after winning, South considered his prospects. There would be no problem if the diamonds broke 3-3, or if the hand with four diamonds also held 27. There was, of course, the possibility that 27 was a singleton, when the six would give access to 4A, but, against that, one round of trumps might (and would) work badly if a defender with four diamonds won the third round of the suit and could lead 27. South was happy enough with the way the play went when he cashed his top diamonds first and led a third round. East won and led a fourth round but, as it was he who held the vital seven of trumps, his partner could not oblige and the slam rolled in.
Why was this a sad story? At the other table, after the same start, North decided to respond positively with Two Spades. Now it was a jump to Seven Clubs by South that ended the auction and again West led !K. It all looked hopeless to declarer; even if 27 fell singleton, there were still only 12 tricks. Instead declarer simply reeled off eight rounds of trumps. You can guess what happened. West came down to 4J,10,6 !Q and his partner carefully retained 4K,8. It all meant that South suddenly found himself with four diamond tricks and two embarrassed opponents who were not looking forward to comparison time.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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