When you find that you have not bid what seems to be an easy slam, you should not worry too much or feel disheartened, if it is a match-point event. A bad break in trumps or in a side suit may come to your rescue. Making overtricks will get you a good score, instead.

Contract: 4H by south. West leads the D2. Plan the play.

Bidding comment: Having discovered a 4-4 fit in hearts, north should have bid 6H. 4H is a downright underbid. He has a five-card suit on the side and controls in the remaining two suits.

Analysis: Declarer thought at least twenty per cent of the field would only be in game. Requiring a top to be in contention, he felt that if he could successfully ruff three spades in dummy, he might make all the thirteen tricks if trumps are 3-2.

Play: To retain entries to hand for ruffing spades in dummy, declarer won the opening lead with the DK, played a spade to the ace and ruffed a spade. When he played a diamond to the ace, west ruffed and shifted to C2, which declarer won with the ace in hand. Ruffing a third spade, declarer drew trumps, both defenders following. The last five-card position was:

When declarer cashed the hearts, west discarded the spade jack and the club four... but he gave up when declarer tabled the DQ, for he was squeezed in the black suits.

The full hands are:

Discussion: Why didn’t declarer try the spade finesse? Declarer estimated that taking three spades ruffs in dummy together with the chances of bringing down the king in two or three rounds offered almost equal chances as the finesse, if not better. Most players reached 6H and would you believe it, went down trying to cross-ruff the hand. Actually, it is very easy to make twelve tricks on this hand. There are at least two straightforward lines of play that can see you through.

Having under bid, you should appreciate declarer’s match-point thinking of trying for all thirteen tricks. You should also give it to the declarer for finding the winning play to make twelve tricks, after he ran into the foul break in diamonds.

Believe you me, playing only in 4H and scoring two over tricks got us 100 per cent match-point score.

So, unless you are absolutely certain, it does not pay to bid slams in match-points! Why bid a slam and go down when you can comfortably make a couple of overtricks in a game contract.

Play out the deal with a deck of cards to understand the play better.

Email: ls4bridge@gmail.com

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