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Slam Creates Big Swing

  by Richard Pavlicek

Last month’s Fall North American Championships attracted several thousand bridge players to San Antonio, Texas. The “Alamo City” was an ideal location with its spacious convention center and attractive downtown area. But the location might just as well have been Thule, Greenland, for the players came with one purpose — to play bridge.

Today’s deal is from an early round of the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams. The North-South pairs of both teams reached an ultra-sound contract of six spades. (One would want to be in seven spades looking at the North-South hands alone.)

6 S South
Both Vul
S K J 8 5
H A J 5 4 3
D Q 8 2


1 H
3 S
5 C

1 D
1 S
4 D
6 S
S 2
H 9 6
D J 9 7 5
C Q J 8 7 6 3
TableS 10 9 7 4
H Q 10 8 7
D 10
C K 10 9 4

Lead: C Q
S A Q 6 3
H K 2
D A K 6 4 3
C 5 2

The bidding shown occurred at table one. Perhaps South was too quick in jumping to six spades, but it was a wise stop; the foul distribution of the East-West hands would foil any grand slam.

West led the club queen and declarer drew two rounds of trumps with the jack and queen to disclose the four-one break. A club was ruffed in dummy; the spade king was cashed; then South returned to his hand with the heart king to draw the outstanding trump. This line of play would have been proper in a contract of seven spades, but now South was in trouble. With the diamonds four-one and the heart finesse offside, declarer could win only 11 tricks. Down one in six spades was not a pleasing result on a hand that looked cold for seven at the outset.

In the replay at table two the play began in similar fashion: club lead; spade jack; spade queen. But this declarer was more experienced and played with greater care. The diamond queen and both top hearts were cashed, followed by a low diamond from dummy. If East chose to ruff this, he would be ruffing a loser and declarer would easily win the rest. Therefore, East discarded a club and South won the diamond king. A club was ruffed in dummy and another diamond was led. Faced with the same predicament, East again discarded and South won the diamond ace. A diamond was ruffed with the spade king and declarer could not be prevented from winning two more tricks with his remaining ace-six in spades. The well-played slam came home and there was nothing East could have done to prevent it.

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© 1984 Richard Pavlicek