Bridge - The Scotsman 25/08/12

WHEN you have reached a slam it is worthwhile taking a little extra care over the play.

South’s weak 2D opener pre-empted West’s strong 2C, so he had to start with a double. East had enough for a positive response, but did not want to choose the wrong major, so he stretched to cuebid 3D, asking partner to chose. West might keep the momentum going with a return cuebid, but he decided the simplest thing to do was to bid slam. North leads the eight of diamonds. How would you plan the play?

You have ten sure tricks and on this lead you must make a diamond, bringing the total to 11. A twelfth will be easy if either major breaks 3-3, but this is less probable than the normal 50 per cent when South is known to hold six diamonds. Still, if North holds four or more cards in both majors you might squeeze him.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It looks normal to play second hand low from dummy on the opening lead. If South rises with the ace you have your 12 tricks, but what if he inserts the ten to force your king? You can cash four clubs, discarding diamonds from dummy, but in the eight-card ending North is not squeezed. You need to lose one trick to rectify the count against North, and you can afford to lose only to the ace of diamonds.

Play the queen from dummy at trick one to force South to win. Whatever he returns you can clarify the situation by cashing three spades (or hearts). When South shows out on the third round, cash the king of diamonds and four clubs, discarding a diamond from dummy on the third club. The fourth club squeezes North; if dummy’s last spade has not become a winner you can discard it and cash four hearts.

If South perversely refuses to win the ace of diamonds you can simply lead towards your king for the twelfth trick.