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Today's deal is from a Tuesday kit-kat, a match-point pair event where leading players in Chennai assemble without fail at T.Nagar Social Club at 6 P.M. for their weekly game.

Contract: 7H by south. West leads the SK. Plan the play.

Bidding explanation: South's 3H was forcing to game. When north raised, south showed slam interest with his cue-bid because of his first round control in spades. North applied RKC and finding that his partner had two key-cards with the trump queen, bid the grand, hoping that the running diamond suit would provide the necessary discards for declarer's losers. Surprisingly, the grand slam was reached in almost all the tables.

How the play went: Winning the opening lead with the ace, more than half the declarers removed trumps, and cashed the DJ. When west showed out on the first diamond, the roof came down crashing on them. Declarers crossed to dummy in club ace, cashed the three winner diamonds...but had to lose a club at the end. The other declarers tried to unblock the DJ at trick two. West ruffed and cashed a spade to beat the contract by two tricks. The complete hands are:

Correct play: Though a 5-0 break occurs only about 4 percent of the time, declarer should provide for such a contingency and see if there is anything that can be done about it, to improve the chances of success. The correct play is to cash just two high trumps in the closed hand before unblocking the DJ. Declarer crosses to the trump ace next, and ruffs a diamond to set up the suit. The club ace provides the entry to dummy to enjoy the diamonds.

Discussion: If diamonds are 3-2 or even 4-1, the hand poses no problem...but if it is 5-0, declarer prevails when the above fortunate distribution exists. The theme of the deal can best be described as ‘The hand that has length in trumps has length in the side suit as well.' This is a recurring theme but often missed during play. This extra precaution is definitely worth remembering!

It is on hands like these that the experts often display their class, for they can come up with that extra ‘something', which the average players do not recognise exists.

What a weak-two? You may ask. I fully agree with you. It doesn't pay to open with a weak-two when you have a useful side suit of four or more cards, for you can miss out on a fit in the side suit. Also, these indisciplined bids will only propel the opponents to their right contract, which they can never dream of reaching otherwise.

It would be better to pass initially with the west hand and get back into the auction later with an unusual 2NT, should the opponents bid the red suits.

Email: ls4bridge@gmail.com

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