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721. Dealer South. Both Vul.

South saw little point in asking for key cards as that would have given East the chance to double North’s response.

West led the queen of spades and, when dummy was tabled, declarer saw that it would be easy if trumps were no worse than 3-1. Things became a little more complicated at trick two when East discarded a club on the ace of hearts. After that unpleasant blow, delarer needed West to have begun with at least four spades. Since West had not led a minor-suit card, declarer also presumed that West had begun with at least two cards in each minor.

Declarer abandoned trumps and led a club to the queen to ruff a spade. After cashing the ace of clubs, he played the ace and king of diamonds, then ruffed dummy’s third spade. He continued with the king of clubs, which offered West no winning option. At the table, West ruffed in with the nine of trumps to prevent a diamond discard from dummy. Declarer overruffed this with dummy’s jack and continued by trumping dummy’s last spade and cashing the king of hearts.

West had been reduced to the queen of trumps and a spade and dummy to a trump and a diamond, while declarer had a low card in each of the minors. Now declarer needed only to advance his last club. Nothing could then have prevented dummy’s remaining trump from scoring a trick.

Alternatively, declarer could have trumped a spade at trick two and led a heart to the king at trick 11 to achieve a similar en passant position.

722. Dealer South. Both Vul.

While his side had a reasonable save in five clubs, East decided that venturing to the five level, vulnerable, was far too likely to lead to disaster.

West led the king of clubs and declarer paused to form a plan. He had nine top tricks and the danger was that East would have one of the missing heart honours and West the ace of diamonds. In that case, declarer could have lost three diamonds and a heart. Declarer, rightly deciding he had to stop East from gaining the lead, consequently played a low club from dummy on the first trick. When East followed with the ten of clubs to suggest a heart shift, West duly shifted to that suit.

Declarer rose with dummy’s ace of hearts, played a trump to his ace and followed with a trump back to dummy’s king (in case trumps had been 2-0). Next, declarer discarded his remaining heart on the ace of clubs and then led the jack of hearts, running it when East played low. When West won the trick with his queen of hearts he saw that a club or heart return would have been hopeless and so exited with the ace and another diamond. The king of diamonds was declarer’s tenth trick.

723. Dealer South. EW Vul.

West led the ten of spades to dummy’s queen. Declarer counted five tricks in the black suits. While four tricks from the heart suit would bring in the game, there was the sticky matter of entries to consider: the danger was that the defenders would take the second heart and lock declarer in dummy with a club shift, perhaps forcing him to lose two club tricks as well as the three obvious ones in the red suits.

As a result of these considerations, declarer led a diamond at trick two. East won with his king of diamonds and exited with the queen of clubs. Declarer took this in dummy with the ace of clubs and played a heart from dummy, catching East in a Morton’s Fork. If he had taken his ace of hearts, declarer would have had nine tricks. When East ducked the heart, declarer’s king of hearts took the trick. Now declarer needed only one more spade trick, so he cashed the king of spades, throwing a club from the dummy. The queen of diamonds came next, taken by East’s ace. Declarer won the club continuation with dummy’s king and claimed nine tricks: two spades, one heart, four diamonds and two clubs.

724. Dealer South. Both Vul.

West led the ten of diamonds. Declarer counted eleven sure winners and began to consider his options for making an extra trick. Clearly, a successful finesse in either major suit would do the job but his mind turned to considering whether there was anything better. He noted that the heart suit had promise and proceeded to show that he would make twelve tricks if he could extract all of West’s minor-suit cards.

He took the diamond lead in hand with the queen and cashed the jack of diamonds. Next he played the ace, king and queen of clubs, pleased to see that the suit was 3-3. When both defenders followed to king of diamonds, declarer permitted himself a small smile as he continued with the ace of diamonds, throwing a second low heart from hand.

Now declarer led a low heart from table with the intention of covering East’s card. When East put up the ten of hearts declarer played the queen and West won the trick with his king. As West had only major-suit cards remaining, he had no winning option. If he chose a spade, declarer would make three spade tricks. When he opted to exit with the six of hearts, hoping his partner had the nine, declarer won the trick with his nine of hearts and had made his slam.

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