Both vulnerable. South deals.


xK Q 3

uQ J 8

vA 9 8

wK 10 4 2


xA 5 2 x10 9 8 7 6 4

uK 7 6 5 2 u10 9 4

v10 v7 4

w9 8 5 3 w7 6



uA 3

vK Q J 6 5 3 2

wA Q J

The bidding:


1v Pass 2NT Pass

4w Pass 4u Pass

6v Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead: Nine of w

At duplicate pairs, declarer will go to great lengths to secure an overtrick, even to the extent of endangering the contract. The defenders will strive equally for an undertrick. This deal is from a National Open Pairs Championship:

North’s jump to two notrump showed 13-15 points and a balanced hand. South’s four clubs was the Gerber Convention, asking for aces. When that located just one ace in partner’s hand, South settled in the small slam.

Although six no trump could be claimed, South had no way to determine that 12 tricks were there for the taking, and so chose the safer suit slam.

Since leading from an honor was too risky, West chose to attack with a club. There were 12 fast tricks available — seven diamonds, four clubs and the ace of hearts. However, no duplicate maven would be satisfied by just taking 12 tricks when there was play for an overtrick.

The simple way to 13 tricks was via the heart finesse after discarding the jack of spades on the long club.

But declarer decided that it could do no harm to postpone the finesse as long as possible. Instead, South won the club in hand and ran all seven diamond tricks, discarding three spades and a heart from the table, followed by three more club tricks, ending in dummy — declarer coming down A 3 of hearts in hand and Q J in dummy. The question was whether to try the heart finesse or settle for 12 tricks.

Although it was highly unlikely that West had come down to a bare king of hearts, declarer did not take into account West’s defensive skills.

On the run of diamonds the defender casually discarded four hearts, a club and a spade and, when the last club was cashed, West tossed the ace of spades! Convinced that West’s last two cards were hearts, declarer thought the finesse could be taken safely.

When it lost to the now bare king, West had a spade to cash for down one!

2013 Tribune Media Services

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