Even though North’s 4H response was pre-emptive in nature, South placed his partner with a fair hand at the prevailing vulnerability. Taking a gamble on the diamond position, he leapt to 6H. How would you play the slam when West leads the diamond queen? You win with dummy’s ace and draw trumps in one round. The only chance is to eliminate the club suit and exit in diamonds. When you do this, West wins with the ten of diamonds. A diamond continuation would give you a ruff-and-discard and the contract. Realising this, because his partner gave a length signal at Trick 1, West exists with a low spade. You now have a guess to make. Should you play dummy’s queen of spades hoping that West holds the king? Or should you run the spade exit to your hand, hoping that West holds the jack and that East’s king will be forced? If you have not already considered this problem, take a moment to do so now. You should play low from dummy, playing West for the jack. Why is this? Because if West held the king, East would have won the second round of diamonds and played a spade through your ace! Since you can be confident that East has the king of spades, the only chance is to play West for the jack.

What response do you make?

Even if you play four-card majors, it is easily better to raise to 2S rather than bid 1NT. First of all, the odds are high that partner will hold five spades anyway. Secondly, if he has opened 1S on a four-card suit and a balanced hand of around 18-19 points, he will rebid 2NT. You can then raise to 3NT, describing your hand very well.

Awards: 2S-10, 1NT – 5, 2C/2D – 2.

David Bird — Knight Features