When todays deal occurred in a local club game, most North-South pairs reached three notrump and made the obvious 11 tricks four diamonds, four hearts, two clubs, and one spade. This was a normal, expected result. But at one table the bidding proceeded as shown in the diagram.
Erwin Cutler of Margate held the South hand and heard his partner open the bidding one club (a dubious action which is clearly accountable for the subsequent overbid). After temporizing with a one-diamond response, South jumped into Blackwood to ask for aces. When North admitted to holding the two missing aces, South continued to five notrump to ask for kings and then settled for a small slam in notrump. This contract appeared to be doomed, but Cutler found a way to justify his bidding.
West led the heart jack to Souths queen and four rounds of diamonds were cashed, discarding a spade from dummy. East had to make two discards and let go a heart and a spade. The ace-king of hearts were cashed (East shedding a club), followed by the good heart six, on which West and North discarded clubs. East, now holding K-Q-7 in spades and Q-J-10 in clubs, had a difficult discard to make. If he let go a spade, declarer could establish a spade trick. If he let go a club, declarer could cash the top clubs (ending in the South hand) and lead a low spade to dummys nine forcing East to win and lead away from his remaining spade honor.
Cutler read the situation correctly and scored up his contract. This was a top score as no other pair bid (much less made) the thin slam.
© 1985 Richard Pavlicek