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Trump Coup Delivers Grand Slam

  by Richard Pavlicek

Reaching the optimum contract boosted two of the area’s finest players to victory in the Swiss Teams at the Memorial Day tournament in Cocoa Beach. Gracie Gabbai opened the North hand two clubs (strong and artificial), and Rueben Alexander made a positive two-heart response as South. North showed her diamond suit; South rebid his hearts; and North raised to establish the trump fit.

7 H South
None Vul
S A J 2
D A K J 10 5 4
C K 10

2 C
3 D
4 H
5 D
5 S
7 H
2 H
3 H
5 C
5 H
5 NT
S K Q 10 6
H 9
D 8 7 6 2
C 7 4 3 2
TableS 9 8 5 3
H J 5 4 3
D Q 9
C 9 8 6

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

South, of course, was unwilling to settle for game so he five clubs to show the ace. North cooperated with five diamonds, and South returned to five hearts, lacking spade control. When North next showed the spade ace, South realized that a grand slam would be a good proposition if North held the ace-king of hearts, so he bid five notrump. This was the so-called “grand slam force” asking partner to bid seven with two of the top three trump honors. North faithfully obliged. In the words of the late bowler, Billy Welu, “Trust is a must or your game is a bust.”

Seven hearts is an excellent contract, basically requiring a three-two trump break (or a singleton jack), but the cards lay otherwise. It took accurate play by Alexander to bring it home. The spade king was taken by the ace, and the heart ace brought forth an ominous nine from West. If West held no more hearts, declarer would have to reduce his trump length to effect a trump coup against East.

Declarer cashed the ace-king of diamonds to discard a spade. East’s queen was a welcome sight, but it would be a mistake to lead diamonds now (East would discard clubs). Declarer ruffed a spade, returned to dummy with a heart (confirming the bad break), and ruffed another spade. A club was led to the 10 to lead the good diamonds through East. Eventually, East had to ruff and declarer overruffed to make his grand slam.

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© 1988 Richard Pavlicek