Main     Column 7DA0 by Richard Pavlicek    

Grand Slam Eludes All Players

Today’s deal was reported by Fran Cox, manager of the Pompano Beach Bridge Club and director of other duplicate games in the area. Anyone who has played in her games knows that she really cares, not about her own success but about the happiness of others. A greater asset to our bridge community would be hard to find.

7 H S A 7 6 4
H Q 10 7
D A
C A Q 7 6 5
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass


North

3 C
3 H
4 S
5 S


East

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass


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

Would you have bid this grand slam? If not, you’d have plenty of company. Cox remarked that “no one reached seven hearts” when the deal occurred at her Boca Greens game. She asked for my thoughts as to the correct bidding.

Well, one way to get there is to open seven hearts and thank partner for a great dummy. Seriously, it is difficult to bid, but I constructed a plausible auction. North’s hand merits a strong jump-shift response (based on the heart fit); South shows his diamond suit (better than rebidding hearts) and North raises hearts. South is now concerned about the lack of spade control, so he bides time with four clubs, somewhat ambiguous but clearly forcing. When North shows spade control, South takes charge with Blackwood and bids the grand slam, confident that his sixth heart and club king will be the clinchers.

Note West’s cagey opening lead. The bidding revealed the spade ace to be in dummy, so he puts declarer to an immediate test. Would you duck this to the queen and risk going down at trick one? Of course not; you’d win the ace.

The treacherous lie of the enemy cards requires careful play: Heart queen (revealing the 4-0 break); diamond ace; club to king; diamond ruff; club ace (throw spade); spade ruff; diamond ruff; spade ruff; draw trumps and claim. Observe that declarer would be defeated if he led a third round of clubs at any time.

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© 10-14-1990 Richard Pavlicek