South saves time by leaping directly to 6S and West leads the diamond king, East following. How will you plan the play? One possibility is to set up a long heart. You could cash the trump ace, followed by two top hearts. If both defenders followed, you would cross to the trump king, ruff a heart, cross to the queen of trumps and ruff another heart. The king of clubs would serve as an entry to the long heart. A better line is to draw two rounds of trumps straight away. If trumps break 2-2, you can ruff the third round of diamonds. If trumps are 3-1, you will still have the entries to set up the hearts if that suit breaks 3-3. There will also be the club finesse as a final chance. Suppose you embark on this line. You win the first diamond and play the king and ace of trumps, West discarding on the second round. When you cash the ace-king of hearts, West shows out on the second round. Has the time come to take the club finesse? A better idea is to claim the contract! You know that East’s shape is 3-5-1-4. So, you can end-play him with a low heart. Cash the ace of clubs and cross to dummy with a third trump. You then throw East on lead, ditching a club. Whether East returns a heart or a club, you will have twelve tricks.

What will you say on these West cards?

It would be a mistake to pass the double for penalties with such a moderate spade holding. To beat the contract at all, you would then need to score seven tricks with spades as trumps, despite the fact that you had a terrible spade stack sitting over you. The correct response is 1NT, which shows around 5-9 points and a good stopper in the opponent’s suit.

Awards: 1NT – 10, Pass – 5, 2C –3.

David Bird — Knight Features