Bridge - The Scotsman 21/08/13

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IT is a sorry fact that players often go wrong in the bidding. On this occasion South miscounted his points, and failed to make his normal 2NT opener.

North relayed with 2D, and when partner showed 23-24 high card points he headed skywards. 5NT is a general Grand Slam try, and South responded by bidding his four-card suits upwards, looking for the 4-4 fit that may generate an extra trick. No fit was found, but North bid 7NT anyway.

West led the queen of hearts. Declarer saw 12 winners but no 13th. He cashed four clubs and four diamonds, discarding a spade and a heart from dummy. West could safely discard a spade on the fourth club, but when the fourth diamond was played he held Qxx in spades and J10 in hearts. Which card should he let go? He knew from his hand and dummy that South could have no more than 22 points, so it was likely that he now held AKJ in spades and a small heart. If West bares the queen of spades South can drop it to make his slam. Still, there were two good reason to discard a spade. Dummy had K9 of hearts – if West throws a heart declarer will make two heart tricks and his contract. A spade gives hope: perhaps declarer had miscounted his points and partner can guard spades after all. Even when declarer has the jack, he may still think his best chance of success is to finesse.