Fortune was smiling on the pair who reached this slam with only 22 combined HCP. The bidding was sound, though aggressive. Norths jump to 4 was a splinter bid showing a good heart fit and a singleton or void in clubs. Souths jump to 5 invited slam if North had control in diamonds (the unbid suit), and so it came to be. The good news: The A was onside.
West led the A and another diamond to remove dummys entry. The rest looked easy, as declarer saw no remaining losers. The bad news: He began by leading a club to the ace and ruffing a club; A (pitching a club); spade ruff; and another club ruff. The foul distribution now offered no way to succeed; West was destined to score an overruff with the J.
Lets consider the play again by counting winners. Declarer has six trump tricks and three top side tricks, so it would be necessary to ruff three times in dummy to make 12. Not a good idea. A better plan is to establish the long spade suit. This would be easy against normal breaks and is still possible on the unfriendly layout.
After winning the K, cash the A and ruff a spade with the 10 (you must save the 7-6) noting the fall of Wests jack. Cash the A which reveals that East is void; then lead a low heart and finesse, winning the eight spot if West plays low. Ruff a low spade with the Q (beat that!) then cross to dummy with a heart, drawing Wests last trump. Finally, lead the Q for a ruffing finesse against East, and dummy is good.
© 1999 Richard Pavlicek