Main     Column 7B63 by Richard Pavlicek    

Expert Technique Lands Thin Slam

Starting next Friday in Las Vegas is the Summer North American Bridge Championships, which is expected to top all previous attendance records. Thousands of players will gather at the Las Vegas Hilton (the world’s largest hotel) to compete in many separate events over a 10-day span. Some events are intended for the experts, such as the Spingold Knockout Teams to decide the national championship; other events are geared toward the average player. There is something to please everybody.

Today’s deal occurred in last summer’s N.A.C. in Washington, D.C. and features expert bidding and play.

6 H S K Q J 9
H A K 7 5
D 4
C A J 9 5
Both Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass


North
1 C
4 D
5 C


East
Pass
Pass
Pass


South
1 H
4 S
6 H
S 6 5 4
H 10 9 3
D Q J 10 7
C K 8 6
Table S 10 7 2
H J 4
D K 8 6 3
C Q 10 7 2
Lead: D Q S A 8 3
H Q 8 6 2
D A 9 5 2
C 4 3

After two routine bids, North’s jump to four diamonds was a splinter bid. This showed a hand worth a raise to four hearts with a singleton or void (a “splinter”) in diamonds. This enabled South to diagnose the excellent fit (A-x-x-x opposite a singleton is an ideal holding) and his four-spade bid showed the ace of that suit. North showed the club ace, and that was all the encouragement South needed to bid the slam.

West led the diamond queen and declarer formulated a plan. There were 10 sure tricks (assuming a normal three-two trump break), so two ruffs were required to bring this total to 12. The diamond ace was won, followed by a diamond ruff in dummy.

Then came the key play: a small club off dummy. This was necessary to build up communication so declarer could reach his hand later to draw the outstanding trump. West won with the eight-spot and returned a club (nothing matters) to dummy’s ace. Dummy’s ace and king of hearts were cashed, followed by a spade to the ace and another diamond ruff. Finally, a club ruff allowed declarer to draw the last trump and claim the rest.

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© 7-28-1985 Richard Pavlicek