Hand of the Week
Conventional wisdom is that you need 30 or so high-card points to make a slam. This deal from the 2009 Venice Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil, shows that shape – and some luck – can often see you through. The deal was played between women’s teams from Germany and Sweden.
The odd-looking bidding is owing to the fact that apparently North forgot that 3♣ was supposed to show a diamond suit. When 5♣ was doubled, South thought trumps were breaking very badly, thus the 5♦ bid. On the lead of the ♠K, slam depends on a 3-3 diamond split. Do you see any way to make slam if West leads a heart?
It might seem that a heart lead defeats 6♣, but look at the placement of the spades and diamonds.
On a heart lead, declarer wins the ace, plays two rounds of trumps then gives up a heart. West can win and most likely will play the ♠K – he can be virtually certain a second heart is not cashing – but declarer wins and runs trumps. This will be the position:
Thanks to North’s two 9s (spades and diamonds), West must surrender on the lead of the ♣5. West is squeezed and declarer has 12 tricks – even sweeter if the contract was doubled.