Both vulnerable. South deals.


xA Q 4

uA Q

vA Q 4

w8 6 5 4 2


x8 6 xJ 9 7 3

u9 8 7 5 u6 3 2

v10 8 v9 7 5 3 2

wK Q 9 7 3 w10


xK 10 5 2

uK J 10 4

vK J 6

wA J

The bidding:


1NT Pass 6NT Pass

Pass Pass

Opening lead: Nine of u

Had God been a bridge player, he would have been born with at least 13 fingers. That would have made counting this hand far simpler. But there are times when obtaining the count is purely a matter of technique. We would wager that most players would not be sure how to play the last few tricks.

North was taken aback by his partner’s opening bid of one no trump. Point count suggested that a small slam was the maximum that could be bid with confidence, and North got there in one fell swoop.

Since the king of clubs was more likely to cost than gain on this auction, West selected the safe heart lead. Declarer could count eight fast tricks outside spades, so that suit had to produce four tricks for the slam to come home.

Declarer started by cashing seven tricks in the red suits. East followed to six of these, then discarded a diamond on the last heart. West discarded a club on the third diamond. At this point, declarer had no clue as to how the spades were divided. Both defenders followed to the ace of clubs and ace-queen of spades, so declarer learned nothing new. South played dummy’s remaining spade and, after some thought, elected to rise with the king. Down one.

There was no need to guess the situation. With a little foresight, South could have obtained a complete count of the hand. All that was needed was to lead a club from dummy at trick two and insert the jack! Now when declarer cashes all the winners outside of spades, East will become marked with three hearts, five diamonds and just one club so, therefore, the defender is known to hold four spades. So after cashing the ace and queen of spades without the jack appearing, declarer has a marked finesse for the knave at trick 12. Easy, if you think of it.

2013 Tribune Media Services

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