David Bird

South’s 5S asked partner to advance to 6S if his trumps were good. The borderline small slam was duly reached and West led the jack of clubs, won by declarer’s queen. A trump to the queen brought good news, the finesse succeeding. Declarer returned to his hand with the ace of hearts and repeated the trump finesse. Less good news now arrived. East showing out. It seemed at this point that declarer had two losers before him — a trump and a heart. How would you have continued the play? 

Declarer cashed his top cards in the side suits and ruffed a diamond in his hand. He was now down to 10-9 of trumps and a losing heart. West held K-8 of trumps and a heart. Dummy had the bare ace of trumps and two hearts. When declarer exited with a heart to the 10. East had to win. Whichever plain suit he returned, declarer could ruff with the 10 and leave West with no winning option. If he overruffed with the king, dummy would overruff in turn with the bare ace; South’s nine of trumps would then score the last trick. If West declined to overruff, dummy’s ace of trumps would win the last trick. The manoeuvre is known as a Smother Play.

What would you rebid on the West cards?


A difficult problem! If partner has a red ace and Q-J-x-x in spades, you can probably make 6D. It is immpossible to discover if he holds these cards and to some extent you must guess what to do now I would bid a simple 3NT. You can see nine tricks, provided partner can stop the hearts 5D might go down when 3NT is easy.

Awards: 3NT-10, 5D-8, Double (take-out) -7,6D -5.

— David Bird (Knight Features)