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Aces Are Meant To Take Kings

The auction on this deal has a valid claim as one of the worst ever, but as long as there are bridge players the record will never stand. North was clearly at fault. His charge into Blackwood was a gross overbid, and even worse was his failure to check for kings with 5 NT. Certainly North should not want to be in a grand slam missing two important kings.

7 H by South

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

West


Pass
Pass
North

1 C
4 NT
7 H
East
Babs
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
Duke
1 H
5 H

Never mind. South was the infamous Duke Dropem, who definitely knew how to locate kings. On his right was Babs D’Lady, an attractive young lass from Texas. Duke would just sway to his left then sway to his right until he picked off every card in her hand. Babs didn’t mind, of course, since she thought he was just looking at her cleavage.

West led the D 5, won by the queen in dummy. After a few moments of swaying — I mean counting his tricks — Duke called for the ace of hearts, dropping the king. “Just as I figured,” Duke professed, “you can’t believe all this eight-ever stuff. My rule is simple: Aces are meant to take kings. Sometimes you have to go against the odds when you’re put to the breast… I mean test.”

Even with the lucky heart “guess” Duke was still not home. There appears to be 13 tricks: five trumps, two spades, four diamonds (note the jack drops) and two clubs, but the blockage in three suits makes it impossible to win them all. Try it and you will discover the hang-ups. Can you find the way to make this grand slam? Hint: If you remember Duke’s rule it might help.

Applying the Rule

Duke did a little more swaying and came up with the double-dummy solution. He cashed a second heart (Babs threw a spade) then led the S K and overtook it with the ace. “Just following the rule,” he explained. He next led the S J for a pseudo ruffing finesse; West covered, and he ruffed with dummy’s last trump. He applied his rule once more as he overtook the D K with the ace and drew all of West’s trumps. This left the following ending with Duke on lead:

S
H
D
C A Q 9 8 7
S 4 3
H
D 9 7
C K
TableS 10
H
D J
C J 10 3
S 5
H 4
D 10 8
C 4

Duke could tell Babs was uncomfortable with her previous discards (one more sway would confirm this) so he led his last trump. This caught Babs in a squeeze — she’d been there before, of course, but never at the bridge table. Babs had to keep her club stopper at all costs, so she let go the D J.

Oops. This made Duke’s D 10 good, so he continued with that card and Babs was squeezed again. This time she discarded the S 10 which allowed Duke to win his lowly S 5. Finally Duke led a club, and when the king popped he said to dummy, “You know the rule.”

“You see,” Duke elaborated, “I began with 13 tricks but I couldn’t reach them. What else could I do but give a few away and then squeeze ‘em back. Oh, Babs? Got any plans for dinner?”

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© 1997 Richard Pavlicek