In my previous article, “Bids and Pieces”, ESRA 176, we discussed the bidding and play of a hand that had arisen in a family bridge game in which a player found himself with a very strong hand opposite his partner’s 1NT opening bid.  Hands like this are not common, so I was surprised to come across a similar situation in an on-line tournament less than a week after completing the article.  I dealt and opened the bidding 1NT.  My partner, a lady from Texas, Dene, holding  Q,A K 10 8 5, ¨J 7 4 2, ♣ A Q 3, made the Jacoby transfer bid of 2¨, showing at least 5 cards in the heart suit and, incidentally, not more than 3 spades – with both majors she would rather have bid 2♣, Stayman.  After I duly responded 2, Dene bid 3¨, showing her second suit and game-going values.  The full bidding was as follows:

South

West

North

East

 1 NT

Pass

2 ¨

Pass

2

Pass

3 ¨

Pass

3

Pass

 4 NT

Pass

5

Pass

Pass

Dene’s 3¨ bid suited my hand very well. I held  A 5 3 2, Q 7 3, ¨A K 6, § K 6 4. With a heart fit, 3 to an honor, the top cards in diamonds and controls in the black suits, I made the encouraging cue bid of 3. Dene now bid 4NT, Roman Key-Card Blackwood (RKCB), to which I responded 5, showing two Aces and the heart Queen. The final contract was 6©, with me as declarer in the South seat.   

 

    North

 

 

 Q

 

 

© A K 10 8 5

 

 

¨ J 7 4 2

 

 

♣ A Q 3

 

  

     South

 

 

 A 5 3 2

 

 

© Q 7 3

 

 

¨ A K 6

 

 

♣K 6 4

 

West led the ♣J and I won the trick with the ♣A in dummy.  I saw that if I could pick up the heart suit without loss, I would have 11 tricks on top – 5 hearts, 3 clubs, 2 diamonds and the spade Ace.. The twelfth trick could come from dummy’s ¨J if the suit broke 3-3, or if West held the ¨Q or East held that card singleton or doubleton, so I had around a 75% chance of bringing home the slam.  I started drawing trumps immediately by playing the ©K from dummy. Both opponents followed suit but when I played the next round of hearts, leading from dummy towards my ©Q, East discarded a small spade. No problem. I could now lead my third heart towards dummy’s ©K, 10 and take the marked finesse against West’s ©J. On the fourth round of hearts, I discarded a small spade. I cashed 2 further club tricks and played ¨A and ¨K. Alas, East held ¨Q, 9, 8, 3 so I couldn’t come to a twelfth trick – one down.

We got a very poor score on the hand.  When I checked the scoring after the tournament, I saw that most North-South pairs had stayed out of slam but one pair had brought home the 6© slam. Was it miss-defense? On further examination I saw that the slam could be made.  I decided to ask what one of my bridge buddies, Harold, could make of the hand.

First the bidding:  The bidding started the same way, 1NT – 2¨, but after my 2©, Harold, having read my ESRA 176 article, jumped to 3 to show a strong hand shortage in spades – a singleton or void. This, of course, suited my hand so I cue-bid 4¨, showing the Ace and we reached the heart slam. I now gave him the challenge of making the contract without showing him the East-West hands. He was adequate to the task.

The full hand is given below. Can you see how to make the slam?

 

    North

 

 

 Q

 

 

© A K 10 8 5

 

      West

¨ J 7 4 2

      East

  K J 10 7

♣ A Q 3

 9 8 6 4

© J 9 4 2

 

© 6

¨ 10 5

     South

¨ Q 9 8 3

♣ J 10 9

 A 5 3 2

♣8 7 5 2

 

© Q 7 3

 

 

¨ A K 6

 

 

♣K 6 4

 

Well, Harold remembered that in “Bids and Pieces” the extra trick came from trumping a looser, so he set about making 6 rather than 5 tricks in hearts. He determined that he could do this by trumping his 3 small spades with dummy’s small trumps. He won the first trick with the ♣A in dummy and then, in rapid succession, Q to the K in his hand, spade ruff, back to his hand with the ¨K, spade ruff, back again with the ¨A, ruff his last small spade.  With 7 tricks won, this was the position:

 

    North

 

 

 -

 

 

© A K

 

      West

¨ J 7

      East

  -

♣ Q 3

 -

© J 9 4 2

 

© 6

¨ -

     South

¨ Q 9

♣ 10 9

 -

♣8 7 5

 

© Q 7 3

 

 

¨ 6

 

 

♣K 6

 

He now played dummy’s A and K for tricks 8 and 9.  Unfazed by the bad break in hearts – he now had seemingly to lose a diamond and a trump – he crossed to his hand with the ♣K and cashed the heart Queen for a total of 11 tricks. A club to dummy’s ♣Q gave him his twelfth trick and the contract.  The opponents’  ©J and ¨Q winners collided. A case of the disappearing trick.

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About the author

Alan Caplan

Alan Caplan was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was an active member of Bnei Zion and, subsequently, Habonim following the merger of the two movements. The year after high school ...
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