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   Nov. Nov. 12/99

 

JUST BRIDGE...

 

SLAM VIA THE BACK DOOR

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish


 Bridge is certainly challenging, but it is primarily a game of routine auctions, recurring themes of play and defence, an exercise in avoiding error. When we discover something out of the ordinary, something beautiful or subtly perfect, the pleasure is delicious. We hope you will see today's deal in that light.

Both sides vulnerable West deals

  A 10 9 2
A 10 6 4 3
Q J 5

4

7
8 7 2
K 5

A K Q 10 8 7 6

6 5 4 3
5
10 9 8 4 3 2

J 4

  K Q J 8
K Q J 9
A 7

9 3 2

West North East South
1 Dbl Pass 2
3 3 4 4NT(1)
Pass 5(2) Pass 6
END      


 

 

(1) Key Card Blackwood
(2) Two key cards, no
Q


Opening Lead:
K

 South was delighted to respond to North's takeout double of 1
with a cue-bid, forcing until a suit was bid and supported. When North volunteered 3 over West's 3, South brushed aside East's obstructive 4, checked on key cards (the four aces and, here, the king of hearts, the last-bid suit), found two (North would have shown the Q if he had it, by responding 5), and drove to . . . 6. Was this a slip of the tongue? Did South really mean to bid 6?

 No, he did not. Therein lies the beauty of the deal. South placed North with five hearts for his unforced 3
bid. As North had not overcalled, which he would have done with three-five in the majors, South concluded that North must have four spades as well. With two-two in the minors, he would (again) have preferred to overcall 1, so North was marked with either 4-5-3-1 or 4-5-4-0 distribution. South saw that there would be no useful discards if hearts were trumps; 6 would turn on North's diamond holding. On this layout 6 requires the diamond finesse, which is a favourite to lose on the auction. In 6, however, declarer can ruff two clubs in dummy and eventually discard the 7 on North's fifth heart. South knew exactly what he was doing when he bid 6.

 He was rewarded when West led a high club and the play went exactly as he had foreseen; the four-one trump break did not hurt him. Had West found the remarkable lead of a heart, however, the slam would have been defeated. Declarer would have to concede a club to prepare his ruffs in dummy but West would win and give East a heart ruff. That would have been a great story but wildly unfair to our hero in the South seat, who was Brad Moss of New York. North was Toronto's Fred Gitelman.