Danger Ahead

Dlr: South ♠ K Q 9 2
Vul: Both A K
A 7
♣ K 7 6 4 2
♠ A J 7 6 4
Q 6 3
2
♣ A 9 8 5
West North East South
1♠
Pass 2NT (1) Pass 3 (2)
Pass 3♠ (3) Pass 4♠ (4)
Pass 4NT (5) Pass 5 (6)
Pass 6♠ All Pass

(1) Game-forcing spade raise
(2) Singleton or void in diamonds
(3) Slam try
(4) Minimum values
(5) Roman Key Card Blackwood
(6) Two key cards without the trump queen

Against your slam, West leads the 9. You win in dummy perforce. How should you proceed?

Solution

Declarer took the lead with dummy’s ace, then drew trumps with the ace, king and queen.

Next, he cashed the K, followed by the A. After ruffing the 7 back to his hand, declarer cashed the Q, throwing a low club from dummy.

It was time to tackle the clubs. Declarer started the suit by leading the 5 from hand, intending to play low from dummy if West produced the 3: either the ♣5 would win the trick or East would take the 5 with an honor and the suit would be no worse than 3-1, in which case he would have the three club tricks necessary to make his contact.

In practice, West discarded a diamond, so declarer played low from dummy anyway. East won the trick with the ♣10 and was fixed. A diamond exit would allow declarer to make his 12th trick by discarding a club from hand and ruffing in dummy. Playing the ♣3 next would be hopeless, so East exited with the ♣J. This was taken in dummy with the king in order to lead another club. When East played the ♣3, declarer finessed the 9: he made five trumps, three hearts, a diamond and three clubs for a total of 12 tricks.

Notice that it would have been fatal to start clubs by cashing the ace. On the above layout, there would then have been no way to avoid the loss of two club tricks. The full deal:

Dlr: South ♠ K Q 9 2
Vul: Both A K
A 7
♣ K 7 6 4 2
♠ 10 8 5 ♠ 3
9 8 7 5 2 J 10 4
J 10 9 8 6 K Q 5 4 3
♣ — ♣ Q J 10 3
♠ A J 7 6 4
Q 6 3
2
♣ A 9 8 5
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