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Grand Slam Made by Throw-in Play

Today’s deal brought about a strange result last week at the Bridge Club of Tamarac. Rick Garber of Margate won all 13 tricks in his grand slam by putting his opponent on lead at trick 12. Sound impossible? It should; that sentence is about as palatable as chicken-flavored ice cream. Yet, it happened — without a revoke.

7 H S K J 7
H K 10 9 2
D A 9 6 3
C K 6
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
Pass


North

3 C
4 NT
7 H


East

Pass
Pass
All Pass


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

Garber, South, opened two notrump with his 22-point hand, and Al Kahn, North, responded three clubs, Stayman. South showed his heart suit, and North bid four notrump — this was intended as Blackwood, although most experts would consider it as quantitative. South showed three aces and North bid the grand slam in hearts. (Note that seven notrump would be easier to make.)

West led the club jack, taken by dummy’s king, and declarer won the heart king as West threw a club. Good news: East’s queen could be finessed. Bad news: East had too many hearts. Declarer continued with the heart deuce; five, seven. Next came the club ace, diamond king-queen, and three rounds of spades ending in dummy. Declarer threw his club queen on the diamond ace, then led dummy’s last diamond; East ruffed and South overruffed with the jack.

At this point North remained with 10-9 in hearts, East held Q-8, and South, the blank ace (plus a spade). The situation was hopeless; East had to make a trick. But wait! Before declarer could lead, West led a club out of turn. (He thought he had won the previous diamond trick, forgetting that hearts were trump.)

When a player leads out of turn, the non-offending side has the option to accept that lead; so, declarer ruffed with dummy’s nine. East’s queen now was smothered: If he ruffed low, South would discard his spade; if he overruffed, South would overruff with the ace. Making seven hearts!

Curiously, seven hearts can be made legitimately with double-dummy play: Club king; heart 10 (East cannot profit by covering); heart to seven; spade to jack; heart to jack; cash all your side winners then crossruff the ace-king of hearts at the end.

[Update 2011: I was shocked to view ID Network’s I Almost Got Away with It, about Richard Garber (same person) now serving a life sentence for murder. Very unsettling, as Rick and his then wife Anita were friends of ours, often over to our house for bridge, followed by late-night bowling. I guess one could surmise that anyone who makes seven hearts on a throw-in play is up to no good.]

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© 2-19-1989 Richard Pavlicek