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TALES OF AKARANA

SLAMS A’PLENTY

There were good slams to be bid. There were bad slams which were both bid and missed. There were 50% slams where the missing king was well placed for the brave. There was even one lay-down slam in each direction, “lay down” and claim at trick 1. The dealing program was having one of its fairer nights re the distribution of slam opportunities. And then there was Board 28.

You had to be there. The question was “where?” After opening a 12 point 1NT with :

Spade-small QJ92   Heart-smallQ5 Diamond-smallK93 Club-smallA652, I heard partner transfer to hearts and then force with 3Diamond-small. I then took a small fright over my club pips and reverted back to 3Heart-small, thinking we would play in a nice cosy 5-2 4Heart-small contract. Partner had other ideas as after Key Card, I was left to play in 6Heart-smallwith partner saying she had been thinking of grand slam as she put down dummy. “Save such thoughts for another day” I mused, though she had a fair collection:

Board 28
West Deals
N-S Vul
8 6 5
J 6 3 2
J 10 5
9 4 3
Q J 9 2
Q 5
K 9 3
A 6 5 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
A
A K 8 7 4
A Q 6 4
K 10 8
 
K 10 7 4 3
10 9
8 7 2
Q J 7
West North East South
1 NT Pass 2  Pass
2  Pass 3  Pass
3  Pass 4 NT Pass
5  Pass 5  Pass
6  Pass 6  All pass

 

5Club-small showed one key card and 6Diamond-smallthe Diamond-smallK and no other king along with the Heart-smallQ. I tell the truth! North led a club. I was down quickly when both the ruffing spade finesse failed and the trump break was unfavourable.

I can take no match-points (actually 2 since they fared worse at the other table) but satisfaction in that I had found a better contract than 6NT which had no play on a spade lead. Yet, which of North’s three card suits should they lead against 6NT? The diamond lead is both more attacking and thus more dangerous than a black suit. Who really wants to attack? So, this time a passive unbid major would be my choice, though not if West had shown spades in the bidding.

The diamond was the majority choice and all subsequently failed to make the no-trump slam. Indeed, after a diamond lead, the contract is there to be made. Simply play four rounds of hearts and give North the lead. Even a club switch does not hurt West now. Up with the Club-smallK and cash two more diamonds, the fifth heart and the Spade-smallA. The three card ending is:

 
8
9 4
Q
A 6
 
N
W   E
S
 
6
10 8
 
K
Q J

The last diamond makes South wish they were somewhere else!

The same squeeze is available in 6Heart-small and aggravatingly so also in 6 of either minor. 6Heart-small can also be made on an initial spade lead by playing two hearts finishing in the West hand and throwing East’s losing club on the Spade-smallQ. With clubs 3-3, North will never make a heart trick.

 Indeed, we are told you can make all 13 in diamonds as you can ruff out the heart loser and then exert the same squeeze. Maybe that was what partner was thinking about in the long hesitation over my 6Diamond-small bid? Maybe not!

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

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