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Grand Adventure

I was South and my son Rich was North on this deal, which was a cause celebre at the Summer Nationals in Chicago. We reached the sound grand slam in spades, but its fate lay in the hands of the opening leader.

7 S by South

None Vul
S Q 9 5 3
H
D 4 3
C A K J 10 9 3 2
S J 10 2
H A 10 6 5
D J 8 6 5 2
C 4
TableS 6
H K 9 8 7 4 3
D K 9
C Q 7 6 5
Lead: S 10S A K 8 7 4
H Q J 2
D A Q 10 7
C 8

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
North

2 C
2 S
4 H
5 S
7 S
East

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 S
2 D
3 D
4 NT
5 NT

The first four bids were routine (2 S was forcing to game), then I cue-bid my ace of diamonds. Rich’s jump to 4 H was a splinter bid showing a singleton or void. I next used key-card Blackwood — in my modification the 5 S response indicates one key card plus a void (obviously in hearts). I next bid 5 NT promising all the necessary key cards, and Rich bid the grand based on the potential of his long club suit.

OK, what would you lead? A non-thinking player would always lead an ace against a grand slam. It’s the setting trick, right? A thoughtful player would realize the H A wasn’t cashing (we told them in the bidding) and consider something else. Whew! West led a trump. It was routine then to draw trumps and set up the clubs with the show-up ruffing finesse. Making seven.

A beginner of course would beat this contract. With a heart lead (ruffed in dummy) there is no way to succeed. Try it! In fact, it is difficult to win even 12 tricks when dummy is tapped at trick one.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek