Bridge - The Scotsman 03/01/13

SLAM bidding is not an exact science. Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts. On this deal from the Gold Cup Finals the Crouch-Patterson modern relay style ground to a halt in 3NT. The simpler, natural style of Burn and Hoftaniska was more effective.

Burn opened an 11-count five-card major, and his partner responded with a game forcing 2D. 2NT showed 12-14 balanced, and 3C was natural. East rebid 3NT with his minimum and West rebid his clubs, promising at least 5-5 in the minors, and some interest in slam. Now Burn cuebid his ace of spades. West asked for keycards, and when his partner showed one there was no room to check on the queen of clubs.

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North led a spade, removing dummy’s side entry before the hearts could be unblocked. Declarer won and played a diamond to the king. He played ace and queen of clubs, pleased to see the jack drop. Next he played another diamond. If South takes the ace the diamonds are good for four tricks; he might play a diamond for North to ruff, but dummy overruffs and the hand is over. If South ducks the ace of diamonds declarer has two possible lines. He can unblock the hearts, cross to the nine of clubs, drawing trump, then cash three more hearts discarding diamonds, making all 13 tricks. Or he can ruff a diamond, return to a heart, draw trump and concede a diamond to the ace.