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The deal below came up in an IMP match. In the closed room, south played in 6C and made exactly twelve tricks while the open room NS bid the grand slam in clubs by the superb sequence described below. The declarer was so elated in reaching the optimum contract that he failed to appreciate the problem in the play and went down in the sitter.

Contract: 7C by south. West leads the HK. Plan the play.

Bidding explanation: North bid his hand very well by jumping to 2D to show a very good suit and 16+ points. Later he showed his support for partner with a bid of 3C. By disturbing 3NT to 4C, he not only set the suit as trumps but also insisted on slam. When his partner cue-bid 4H, he launched into RKC, and bid the grand slam when south showed none or 3 keycards.

How the play went: Declarer won the opening lead with the ace and played a club to the ace in dummy and a club back to his king. East showed out on the second trump and there was no way that he could recover. He cashed the spade ace, ruffed a spade, and cashed the club queen…but he could not enter his hand to draw the lurking trump and the contract flew out of the window. The full deal is:

Correct play: The correct play is absurdly simple. There are 12 tricks on top and the spade ruff is your thirteenth trick. So, win the opening lead, cash the spade ace, ruff a spade, draw trumps and claim!

Discussion: There were some interesting points both in the bidding and play of the hand:

Though south has a minimum, he has two and a half honour tricks. He has a comfortable rebid too! So, you can't question his opening bid.

It was important for north to describe that he had a good hand and a very good suit of his own and also support for clubs. After he indicated his slam interest by his 4C bid, he was able to elicit the heart control from opener, and thereafter it was easy for him to bid the grand with the help of RKC.

If north responds with 1D to start with, it may become next to impossible to catch up later.

Why was the hurry to draw trumps? It is very unlikely that east would over ruff the second spade, for a 7-1 break occurs only 3 per cent of the times. Also, east-west were silent throughout and either of them would have pre-empted in spades if he had held a seven-card suit. On the contrary, when you have eight cards in the combined hands, a 4-1 break can occur 28 per cent of the times and to play one high trump from each hand was suicidal for it led to a blocked position which was inextricable.

R.N Subramanian, the Chennai expert, put it very aptly: The point of the hand is that you must take the thirteenth trick first and thereafter go about the business of drawing trumps!

E-mail: ls4bridge@gmail.com

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Sunday MagazineJune 28, 2012