By Ken Masson


Sometimes, despite holding a wealth of high cards, you will reach a slam and when dummy comes down you will see no clear way to making your contract. Such was the case when this hand was played in a match-point duplicate event.

South began proceedings with 2 clubs, the strongest opening bid in their system. North responded 2 diamonds, a waiting bid showing at least a king or two queens, but not saying anything specifically about her diamond holding.  This bid meant that the partnership was committed to reaching at least game.

South now bid two spades to show his longest and strongest suit and North decided to show her longest suit by bidding 3 diamonds. As South held good support for his partner’s suit, he bid 4 no trump, Roman Key Card Blackwood asking North how many of the 5 key cards (4 aces and the king of diamonds) she held.  Her bid of 5 clubs showed 1 keycard so South decided to place the contract in 6 spades, the higher scoring slam and hoped his spades were strong enough to do the job.

West led the club queen and declarer saw that he had a problem.  Even if the spade suit performed for no losers the most he could count was 11 tricks: 6 spades, 3 hearts, 1 diamond and, with no entry to the dummy, 1 club.  The club situation was particularly frustrating as the ace and king in the same suit are normally good for two tricks but, with no entry to the dummy, there didn’t seem much chance of cashing the ace for his 12th trick.

One possibility was to win the opening lead in the dummy, giving up on ever cashing two club tricks, and playing the jack of diamonds from the dummy. If East covered with the king or queen South would win the trick in hand, draw trumps and play the diamond 10 from hand establishing the 9 in dummy for his 12th trick. Then he realized that if East held 3 diamonds to one honor and didn’t cover, west would win the trick and South would never be able to capture the other honor in the east hand.

Then the solution hit declarer:  if he could strip the opponents’ hands of spades and hearts and then play the ace and another diamond, as long as each opponent held a diamond honor (or both were doubleton in the same hand), whoever won the trick would have to give declarer his 12th trick.

And so it transpired.  Declarer won the opening lead in hand, drew trumps in four rounds, played three rounds of hearts noting the opponents followed to all three of his honors, and played the ace and 10 of diamonds.  West followed low to the 10, east won with the queen and had nothing left but clubs which she had to play allowing declarer to make his contract.  If west had risen with the diamond king, he would have gobbled up his partner’s queen and would have had nothing left but low diamonds and clubs and would also have been faced with Hobson’s choice!

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