Both vulnerable. South deals.
xK J 10 9 3
u9 6 2
vJ 7 5
x8 6 5 2 xA 4
u8 uA 7 3
vK Q 10 3 2 v9 8
w9 5 2 wQ J 10 8 7 6
uK Q J 10 5 4
vA 6 4
SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST
1u Pass 1x 2w
4u Pass Pass Pass
Opening lead: King of v
Beware of contracts that look too easy. There are often hidden traps awaiting the unwary declarer, and countermeasures might not be easy to spot. Observe South’s virtuoso performance on this deal.
The bidding was simple. Once North could respond, South, with eight tricks in hand barring a terrible trump break, went directly to the most likely game.
West led the king of diamonds, giving South a second trick in the suit since West was unlikely to have led an unguarded monarch when his partner had bid another suit. With a fourth trick provided by dummy’s spades, it might seem automatic to win the ace and start on trumps. That would have been disastrous. Since West probably held diamond length, a defensive diamond ruff suddenly became a live possibility.
To guard against that, declarer elected to hold up the ace of diamonds — the Bath Coup, named after the spa in England where it originated in the days of whist.
West shifted to the deuce of clubs, taken in the closed hand perforce. The king of hearts was allowed to win the next trick, both defenders following low.
There was still one more pitfall for declarer to avoid.
Since declarer now had another diamond loser to take care of, spades would have to be set up for a discard.
If trumps were 2-2, declarer could afford to lead a second round. However, the percentage division was 3-1, and a trump continuation would allow a defender to win and return a trump, removing the table’s only entry to the spades.
The solution was most elegant. Declarer led the queen of spades, overtaking with the king in case the ace should appear on the first round of the suit, but East did not cooperate.
Next, declarer returned to hand with the ace of diamonds, cashed the remaining club honor and led another spade, endplaying East.
A trump return would allow declarer to win in dummy with the nine to lead a high spade, and a club would allow a ruff-sluff, removing the diamond loser in either case.
2013 Tribune Media Services