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A Variation

8
A K 9 8 4
A 10 8
Q J 4 3
6 3 2
10 3
7 5 4 2
K 10 8 7
 
Q J 7 5
Q 6 5 2
J 6 3
5 2
A K 10 9 4
J 7
K Q 9
A 9 6
Declarer starts with a mere eight top tricks, but has many prospects for more in hearts, spades, and clubs. In notrump, declarer can set up two tricks in any of these suits, but must lose a trick in the suit in order to do so. In order to get twelve tricks, then, declarer must lose two tricks. That's not going to be a successful approach to twelve tricks.
In hearts, declarer has an inevitable heart loser and an inevitable club loser.
In clubs, declarer can't ruff out the hearts or spades without setting up another trump trick for West.
The spade contract, however, is another matter. If South declares 6 , the contract can be made.
Suppose West leads a diamond (the safest defense.) South wins in hand, crosses to the A, and leads the stiff spade off dummy. East split his honors, declarer wins the A-K and exits with the 10, leading to this position:
K 9 8 4
A 10
Q J
10
7 5 4
K 10 8 7
 
7
Q 6 5
J 6
5 2
9 4
J
Q 9
A 9 6
If East exits in a minor, South wins in hand, draws the last trump, and takes the ruffing finesse against East in hearts.
But what if East leads a low heart? At first, that seems to kill an entry, but that's an illusion. Since East holds the last trump, declarer can afford to win the king, and take the ruffing finesse immediately.
<< A Grand Slam
Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1999-2014.
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