From the Bergen Archives
Going through some old clippings, my friend Marty Bergen recently found this deal. Playing with me in the 1980s, he held:
♠ Q 4 3 ♥A 10 8 7 6 5 ♦A ♣A K 2
At favorable vulnerability, he opened 1♥ and I responded 4♣, a splinter bid, showing short clubs and a gameforcing raise with four or more hearts. Marty was a little worried about spade control, but figured that with my gameforcing raise, I had to have something somewhere, likely at least the ♠A or ♠K (if not both).
Though Marty and I both teach our students and readers not to use Blackwood with an uncontrolled suit, he took a chance. I responded to show one keycard, so he bid the heart slam. The ♣J was led and he saw:
Oops. No spade control. Had my diamonds and spades been interchanged, slam would have been excellent. At least we had avoided the killing spade lead, but so what? It still looked like there were two spades to lose. The best chance was that the ♦Q would fall. Or possibly there could be a throw-in play – maybe one opponent had a singleton spade honor.
Marty won the ♣Q, unblocked the ♦A and drew trumps ending in dummy, West starting with one. On the ♦K and a diamond ruff, only low diamonds appeared. Marty cashed the high clubs, and was surprised to find them 7–2 (seven with LHO). With West marked with one heart and seven clubs, there were great chances. If West started with a singleton spade honor along with one heart, four diamonds and seven clubs, the hand could be made.
He crossed in trumps to lead the ♦J in this position:
Marty would ruff the diamond and play a spade to endplay the opponents. Equally as good, East discarded on the ♦J. Do you see why?
Now West was known to be 0=1=5=7. Marty simply threw a spade on the ♦J and West was endplayed when he took the ♦Q. He had to play a minor, which Marty ruffed in dummy while discarding his last spade. We lost no spade tricks! This was the Real Deal:
What a lucky layout, but it was nice that Marty was alert enough to take advantage. Who needs a spade control?