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Sound Deduction Nets Slam

  by Richard Pavlicek

Last week I wrote about a deal played by Mat De Lieto, which was crucial in his team’s victory in the Flight B Knockout Teams at the Southeastern Regional in Bal Harbour. Today’s deal is from the Flight B Swiss Teams, and spotlights an outstanding play by De Lieto’s partner Jeanni St. Jean.

6 NT South
N-S Vul
S 3
H A 2
D K 9 7 5
C A J 9 8 7 6

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

Lead: H 10
S K 5
H K Q 6 4 3
D A 10 6 2

East’s two-club bid was the “Michaels cue-bid,” a popular modern gadget to show a weak hand with length in both major suits. St. Jean, South, doubled to show strength and West jumped to four spades as a preemptive measure (despite the lack of high cards this contract might make, although perfect defense can prevail). De Lieto, North, guessed right to push on to five clubs, East competed further, and South took a bold stab at the reasonable slam.

West led the heart 10, taken by dummy’s ace, and declarer immediately unblocked the king-queen of clubs. A diamond was led toward dummy and West played the jack, forcing the king.

Declarer paused to think. Why had West not led a spade? One valid reason was that he held the spade ace and did not want to establish a trick for the king obviously held by South. This was further evidenced by West splitting his diamond honors (a more likely play if West held an ace). Declarer backed her judgment and played accordingly.

On the run of the clubs, South discarded one diamond, two hearts, and a spade (baring the king). A heart was led to the king and the queen was cashed, forcing West to come down to three cards. When West kept the spade ace and queen-small in diamonds, declarer exited with a spade to force West to lead a diamond into South’s ace-10.

St. Jean’s fine detective work uncovered the only play to make the slam … and win the event.

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek