Mark Horton

Opportunity Knocks

From the Juniors in Beijing

Dealer North   East/West Game

Q 6 5 4
A K Q J 6 3 2
J 8 A 9 3
7 4 8 5
Q 7 6 5 K J 10 2
K J 9 7 2 8 6 5 3
K 10 7 2
10 9
9 8 4 3
A Q 4
West North East South
1 pass 1
pass 4 pass 4
pass 4NT pass 5
pass 6 all pass

When North splintered in support of spades South, with two useful cards, decided to fabricate a cue bid in diamonds. That was enough for North to drive to a slam that depended on how declarer tackled the trump suit.

West led a diamond and declarer won, played a club to the ace and a trump (taking the suit in isolation the seven is the technically correct card, but there are other issues here – a possible 4-1 trump break and the possibility that dummy might be forced) for the eight, queen and ace.

East switched to a heart and declarer won in dummy and played a spade, East following with the three.

If declarer goes up with the queen the slam roles home, but when he finessed the ten it lost to the jack and he was one down.

If declarer discounts the possibility of trumps being 4-1 (East might have forced the dummy with a diamond after taking the ace of spades) then West’s possible holdings in the trump suit are 98 or J8. With the former West might equally have played the nine on the first round of the suit, so there is a case for declarer to play the king on the second round.

One last thought – suppose East follows to the second round with the nine of spades?  Should declarer play him for AJ9 or A93?

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