Watching for Clues

Dlr:
South
Vul
N-S
North
♠ K 7 5 4
A Q 6 3 2
A
♣ K Q 2
South
♠ A Q 3 2
7 6 4 2
♣ A J 10 9 5
West North East South
1♣
2NT(1) Dbl 3 Pass
Pass Dbl Pass 3♠
Pass 4NT Pass 5♠
Pass 6♠ All Pass

1. At least 5-5 in hearts and diamonds

Your partner made two penalty-oriented doubles, but you did not like your void in hearts, so you bid 3♠. Partner then drove to the spade slam. West starts off with the K, taken in dummy perforce. What is your plan to get to 12 tricks?

Solution

As usual, declarer could count 11 tricks against any distribution, 12 if the trumps were an unlikely 3-2. After winning the first trick in dummy, declarer played the ♠K and a spade to his ace, getting the bad news that East had a trump trick. Declarer ruffed a diamond then cashed the ♣K and overtook the ♣Q with the ace. When West discarded a diamond, declarer paused to think.

It was clear from the auction that East had longer hearts than diamonds or he would have bid 3 instead of 3. Declarer surmised that West began with 1=5=6=1 shape and East with 4=3=2=4 distribution. So, declarer cashed the ♠Q and played two more rounds of clubs, reducing everyone to four cards. Declarer now played his last club. East threw a heart because he saw that there was no point in ruffing. If he did, he would have had to lead a heart, allowing declarer to take the last three tricks with two hearts and a trump. East’s discard, however, served only to delay his fate. Declarer then led a trump, throwing dummy’s remaining low heart. East got his trump trick but dummy’s A and Q took the last two tricks. Of course, if West had followed to the second club, he would have been marked with 1=5=5=2 shape, so a second diamond could then have been ruffed safely in dummy. The A would have taken care of declarer’s last diamond and all declarer would have lost would have been a trump trick. The full deal:

Dlr:
South
Vul
N-S
North
♠ K 7 5 4
A Q 6 3 2
A
♣ K Q 2
West
♠ 10
K J 10 9 7
K Q J 9 8 3
♣ 6
East
♠ J 9 8 6
18 5 4
10 5
♣ 8 7 4 3
South
♠ A Q 3 2
7 6 4 2
♣ A J 10 9 5