Hand of the Week
West leads the ♠2. How do you propose to make your contract?
If East has the expected ♦A, you will have an excellent shot, but you might also need clubs to be 3-2. Read on and you will see why these two factors are important. Say this is the full deal:
Suppose you play dummy’s ♠K and East covers it with the ace. You ruff and cross to dummy with a trump to lead a low diamond, catching East in a Morton’s Fork Coup.
If he rises with the ace, you will have three discards for the club losers (one on the ♠Q and two on the diamonds). If instead East plays low on the first diamond, you will win the ♦Q then cross to dummy and discard your other diamond on the ♠Q. After that, you draw trumps and set up the clubs, again making the slam.
What do you make of this? Although it is unlikely in practice, but certain in this column, East defeats the slam by refusing to play his ♠A on the ♠K at trick one. You will then have to choose a discard prematurely, before executing the Morton’s Fork. For example, if you throw a diamond, East defeats the contract by rising with the diamond ace on the first round, leaving you with a club loser at the end.
No doubt, by now you have seen that you should play a low spade at trick one. After ruffing the ♠J high, you cross to dummy with a trump and lead a diamond. If East ducks, the ♦Q wins, and only then do you establish a spade winner, by using a trump to take a ruffing finesse in spades. This sets up a spade winner, with a trump entry to get to it, and gives you a resting spot for your losing ♦4. Later you play ♣A and ♣K and a third club and, with clubs 3-2, you have your slam.
Of course if East plays the ♦A when you lead a low diamond from dummy, you set up a spade trick once you regaining the lead. Finally, after cashing the ♣Q and drawing trumps, you discard your three low clubs on ♠Q and ♦K J.