Both vulnerable. South deals.
Opening lead: Jack of clubs
This week, we will concentrate on gleaning clues from the bidding and play. One of the beauties of bridge is that it gives practitioners a chance to reason and infer, rather than project from a position where everything is known, as in chess. This hand fooled a many-time national champion. Even though North-South were playing five-card majors, North was prepared to play in a diamond slam even opposite a three-card suit in partner’s hand. When South could not bid a a grand slam, North signed off in six diamonds.
Declarer won the opening club lead in dummy and East dropped the queen. A trump to the ace revealed the bad break, and declarer could not recover. Since he needed to ruff dummy’s club losers in hand, he could not draw East’s fangs, and East eventually scored a trump trick and a club ruff.
East’s queen of clubs at the first trick should have flashed a warning signal that declarer was going to encounter bad breaks. After winning the opening lead, correct technique was for declarer to cash the king of diamonds. When the trump position shows up, declarer can still get home with careful timing. After cashing the king-ace of spades and king-ace of hearts, declarer should ruff a heart in dummy. A marked trump finesse is then the entry to ruff a spade, and another trump finesse allows declarer to draw all of East’s trumps. In practice, West will be squeezed in the black suits, and declarer will collect all the tricks.