Neither vulnerable. South deals.


xK J 10

uQ J 10 7

vA 10 8 4

wK 2


x7 6 3 xQ 9 5 2

uK 9 u4

vQ J 7 vK 9 5 3 2

wQ 8 6 5 4 w10 9 7


xA 8 4

uA 8 6 5 3 2


wA J 3

The bidding:


1u Pass 3u Pass

6uPass Pass Pass

Opening lead: Queen of v

How many reasonable lines are there to make 12 tricks at six hearts? Which should declarer choose?

The auction was simple and logical. North’s jump to three hearts was forcing but limited to some 16-17 points, and South decided that any reasonable holding by North would offer play for 12 tricks, and got to the slam via the shortest possible route.

The hand is a virtual maze of finesses. Declarer can take the trump finesse and, if it loses, guess which black-suit finesse to take for 12 tricks. Alternatively, after the heart finesse fails, declarer can cash the ace-king of one of the black suits (spades is preferable because of the greater combined length in the two hands) and, if the queen does not drop, take the finesse in the other black suit.

Declarer chose none of the above. The opening lead of the queen of diamonds was won with the ace and a diamond was ruffed in the closed hand. After cashing the ace of hearts, both defenders following low, declarer crossed to the king of clubs and ruffed another diamond. The ace of clubs was cashed, a club was ruffed in dummy and the table’s last diamond was ruffed in hand. Whichever defender held the king of trumps was now trapped in declarer’s web.

Since it would not help West to overruff, the defender discarded a club. Declarer countered by exiting with a trump. West, the victim in this case, was snared in an endplay. A club return would give declarer a ruff-sluff, and a spade would eliminate declarer’s potential loser in that suit. Either way, 12 tricks were guaranteed. All this line needed to assure the contract was little more than the 78 percent chance that trumps would split 2-1.

2013 Tribune Media Services

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