Mark Horton

Rough Justice

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them.

Hamlet Act 3 Scene 1

One of the few things I dislike about this game is the way good bridge can sometimes go unrewarded. Take a look at this deal from the final of the Silodor Open Pairs:

Dealer: North

Vul: North/South

A 5 4
A Q 8 6
A 9 4
A J 5
West East
Q 7 3 K J 9 8
J 10 7 5 4
8 5 3 2 K Q J 10 7
10 9 8 6 3
10 6 2
K 9 3 2
K Q 7 4 2

Obviously you would like to like to bid a slam on the North/South cards, and it is not impossible to construct an auction where North/South go All In, for example:

West North East South
1 Pass 1
Pass 4 Pass 5
Pass Dbl Pass
Pass Redbl Pass 5
Pass 5 Pass 6
Pass 7 All Pass

Of course, that will not happen very often, even in a star studded field, but you would expect a fair number of pairs to reach Six Hearts.

Alas, those heart slams appear to be doomed by the 4-1 heart break A quick glance at the recap sheets did not reveal a single +1430. (If anyone made the slam report it to the Bulletin!)

As a play problem Seven Hearts is easy, you have to assume trumps will divide 3-2, so all you need to do is ruff two diamonds.

You could adopt that line in Six Hearts, but it’s not clear to me how important that potential overtrick might be, as in a Pairs event a making slam is always a decent board.

On a diamond lead declarer can win with the ace, ruff a diamond and then play a trump, simply covering West’s card. Even if East wins with a singleton honour it will be easy enough to arrange one more diamond ruff and draw trumps.

That is certainly the indicated line at IMPs, where making the contract is all important.

If West finds a spade lead (a decent choice against Six Hearts) declarer does not have the luxury of the safety play in trumps.

Do you feel that the North/South pairs who reached a slam on this deal were hard done by – along with all the East/West pairs who saw their opponents stop in game?

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