Bridge column, May 31: Slams swing so many points
Four no-trump was Blackwood. East bravely bid five spades, hoping his opponents had not discussed how to show aces in this situation. And, of course, they had not. But I recommended a simple scheme: double -- no aces (when you are least likely to want to be in a slam); pass -- one ace; first step (here, five no-trump) -- two aces; and so on.
So South bid five no-trump and North signed off in six hearts.
What should West have led?
I have to admit that I would have chosen the same card as my student: the spade ace. Now making the slam was easy. West led a second spade. South discarded a club from the dummy, drew trumps, played three rounds of clubs, ruffing in the dummy. Then he returned to hand with a trump and took the diamond finesse. When that worked, he claimed.
Now, it is true that six hearts can always be made, but after, say, a trump lead, it is much harder. Do you see how it can be done?
I do not have enough space to explain fully, but South draws trumps, takes three diamond tricks, ruffs dummy's last diamond, and runs trumps, bringing everyone down to four cards. North has one spade and three clubs, South two spades and two clubs. But West is squeezed, unable to keep three clubs and two spades. The curious may work it out. But I doubt my student would have found that play!
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