Cliff Russell of Miami was the star of the recent Gold Coast Regional, winning three major events (the only events in which he played). Todays deal was crucial in the Flight A Swiss Teams.
Russell, South, became declarer in an ambitious slam contract and brought it home with elegant play.
The bidding was routine until Norths four-club bid, which was intended as an advance control-bid (showing the club ace). East then doubled to request a club lead, South showed his spade ace, and North optimistically bid the slam.
West led the club eight, ducked to Easts jack, and the club king was returned to dummys ace. Declarer knew his only chance to make the slam was to establish dummys heart suit to obtain a discard for his losing club.
Declarer cashed the heart ace, ruffed a heart (with the diamond queen), and led a small diamond. When West followed low, declarer finessed dummys eight. This strange play was necessary to obtain the required entries to dummy to set up the heart suit.
The play continued: heart ruff (high); diamond to the jack; then another heart ruff. The top spades were cashed and dummy was entered by ruffing the spade nine. Finally, the heart jack was cashed to discard declarers club loser and the contract was home.
Lady Luck was smiling for declarer with the favorable distribution of the East-West cards, but that does not detract from his skillful play. Russell knew exactly what he needed to make his slam and played accordingly.
© 1984 Richard Pavlicek