The Real Deal


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I’ve been in worse slams

This deal comes from the Sarasota–Manatee Regional in 2014. South held:

♠ 3 2    A J 9 8 7    K 9 2   ♣ A K 2

With both sides vulnerable in a knockout match, North opened 1♠. South responded 2, natural and game-forcing. Opener rebid 2♠ (presumably showing six or more spades). I don’t like raising spades with only two, much preferring 2NT with a hand like South’s.

North now jumps to 4. What does that mean?

In the 2/1 game-forcing system, jumps to game in previously bid suits are the weakest actions. North is showing a minimum with no slam interest. South has nice controls, but if slam was in North’s thinking, he should have bid only 3. South doesn’t have enough extras to make another move.

The ♣J is led and dummy tables:

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

I’ve been in worse slams. If both majors behave, it is possible that 6 will make. This declarer, however, was in only 4. Follow his thinking and see if you can figure out where he went wrong.

He took the first two tricks with the ♣A and ♣K, throwing a low diamond from dummy. Next he took a spade finesse, the queen losing to the king. East played back a high club, ruffed in dummy. Declarer, now unable to set up and use spades (dummy had only two trumps remaining), changed tack. He had already lost a spade trick and still had K 9 2. He led towards his K, but that lost to the ace. Left-hand opponent nastily switched to a trump. Another diamond begot another trump from the defense. In the end, declarer had to lose a third diamond trick for down one.

Where did he go wrong? Taking the first two clubs (throwing a diamond) followed by a spade finesse was a reasonable start. Nothing else is obviously any better. The mistake came after East took the ♠K and played a high club. On this trick, declarer should have thrown a diamond from dummy! This beautiful loser-on-loser play gives the defense no answer.

Here was the Real Deal:

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

After declarer throws dummy’s second diamond, what can the defense do? If they switch to trump, declarer sets up spades and draws trumps ending in dummy. If they play more clubs, declarer
can ruff in hand, set up spades and again draw trumps ending in dummy. Lastly, if the defense plays diamonds, declarer gets to ruff his third diamond in dummy, losing only three minor-suit tricks.

Credit David Berkowitz and Alan Sontag for the accurate defense (succeeding when declarer went wrong).