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No Need to Bid Slams …

Declarer play can often give you an easy 70-80% on a board even when you have failed to bid to the maximum. I have often said that you don’t need to bid slams as long as you can make twelve tricks when other declarers can’t, or when you can make an extra trick. Here is a very good example, the very first board of the session:

Board 1 from Thursday 31/05/2018
Dealer N Nil Vul

Board#1 31/05/2018

Board#1 31/05/2018

This slam should be easy to bid and easy to play. But only two of ten pairs bid to 6H, and both of them made only twelve tricks. That’s fair enough, play as safely as possible in a slam. But interestingly enough, None of the declarers who were in the pathetic 4H game only, managed all thirteen tricks. Only a diamond lead can stop South making thirteen tricks but both declarers received the jack of clubs lead, a much more sensible lead against a slam. The declarers were lulled into complacency and drew trumps and when the queen fell doubleton, took the lazy option of finessing in diamonds and losing to East’s king.

Let me just talk about the bidding before I discuss the declarer play. When North opens 1S and South bids 2H, North’s bid of 3D should show extra values the way I play it. North can rebid 2S with a minimum. In any case, South should bid to 6H however the bidding goes.

Now for the declarer play. On the jack of clubs lead, declarer should win the first trick in hand if he thinks ahead to the possible need for entries to dummy. So, win the club with the king and test trumps. Two rounds drop the queen so declarer can afford another round to draw the last trump. Ace of spades, small spade ruffed in hand. Dummy entered with the queen of clubs and another low spade ruffed in hand. Spades break, so dummy is entered with the ace of diamonds, not taking the finesse, and two losing diamonds are discarded on the ace of spades and the eight which has been developed as another trick. Had spades not broken kindly, declarer could still have taken the diamond finesse. This sort of play should be easy for a competent declarer but, alas, was nowhere in evidence.

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