Get the Count

Dlr: East ♠ 10 6 5 2
Vul: E-W A J 7
A K
♣ A K 8 4
♠ A K Q J 3
6 3
10 9 5 3
♣ 10 6
West North East South
4 4♠
Pass 4NT Pass 5♠
Pass 6♠ All Pass

West leads the 2 against your slam. What is your plan to take 12 tricks?

Solution

Declarer saw that the easiest road home was to ruff two diamonds in dummy. The danger was that East might ruff a diamond. With that in mind, declarer rose with the A at trick one and played the ♠2 to his ace, East discarding a heart. East’s discard meant he was marked with seven hearts and six cards in the minors.

There were seven cards outstanding in each minor, so declarer took the 100% safe play of cashing the ♣A and the A (West had to have at least one of each). Once East followed to both of these cards, he was known to have started with at most five cards in one of the minors. Continuing to analyze the deal, declarer knew that in such a case, West would have at least two cards in each minor. Declarer could then cash the minor-suit kings in complete safety.

When East discarded a heart on the second club, declarer counted West as starting with 4=1=2=6 shape.

After ruffing a club with the ♠3, declarer led the 10. West saw that if he discarded a club declarer would have 12 tricks, so he ruffed in with the ♠7, dummy overruffing with the 10. After ruffing dummy’s remaining club with the ♠J, declarer drew a second round of trumps with the king and then led 9.

When West ruffed this with the ♠9, declarer discarded a heart from dummy. At this point,West had only two clubs left and had to lead one of them. Declarer ruffed the exit in dummy with the ♠6 and discarded his remaining heart from hand. He took the last trick with the queen of trumps to make his contract.

Declarer’s plan of cashing his minor-suit winners in steps would also have succeeded if East had shown out on the second diamond. Declarer would have placed West with six diamonds, allowing declarer to adopt a foolproof plan for taking 12 tricks: cash dummy’s ♠10 and crossruff the minors.

If East had followed to all four of the minor-suit tops, West would have had at least three cards in each minor and it would have been safe to ruff a club with the ♠3. Twelve tricks would have come from crossruffing the minors as cheaply as possible. The full deal:

Dlr: East ♠ 10 6 5 2
Vul:E-W A J 7
A K
♣ A K 8 4
♠ 9 8 7 4 ♠ —
2 K Q 10 9 8 5 4
7 4 Q J 8 6 2
♣ Q J 9 7 3 2 ♣ 5
♠ A K Q J 3
6 3
10 9 5 3
♣ 10 6
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