Bridge - The Scotsman 31/05/13

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THIS deal from the Senior Camrose proved very difficult to bid to a making spot. A combined 30 count with nice distributional features is often enough for slam, but not this time.

The Scottish North-South pair reproached themselves for overreaching to 5S. West led ace and another diamond, and declarer took the spade finesse, feeling lucky when it scored. She cashed the spade king, returned to a heart and played the ace of spades, but that suit did not break. Next she tested hearts, only to find that they did not break either. Since East had eight cards in the majors he was unlikely to have Qxx in clubs, so a club finesse was unlikely to succeed. Declarer’s last hope was that West had Qx; when the queen did not drop she had to settle for one down, -100.

This looked bad, since 4S was an easy make. 5H is even better because you can draw three rounds of trump, then tackle clubs, retaining dummy’s high spades as entries. And of course 3NT has nine tricks if you choose to finesse spades rather than clubs. The Scots were therefore delighted to collect 7 imps on the board when their opposite numbers from Northern Ireland were unable to stop out of slam. 6NT fared badly when West led a diamond. Declarer won the second diamond and crossed to a heart to take the club finesse, his best chance of making 12 tricks. It was not his day, and he had to go four down.