July 3rd, 2005

Weekly bridge column


                                       POWER OF 7

                                   by Stephen Rzewski

				        
                                         North

                                        ♠ A9
                                        ♥ AKJ
                                        ♦ QJ73
                                        ♣ K1083

                           West                        East

                          ♠ K863                      ♠ Q1052
                          ♥ 432                       ♥ Q1098
                          ♦ 9865                      ♦ -----
                          ♣ 42                        ♣ QJ976

                                         South

                                        ♠ J74
                                        ♥ 765
                                        ♦ AK1042
                                        ♣ A5

	             
                       bidding:     S      W       N      E                          
                                      
                                   1♦      P       2♦     P
                                   3♦      P       6♦  (all pass)

	                         opening lead:  ♥ 4

	Looking at all four hands in the layout of today’s deal, can you tell which 
card in the South hand provided declarer with the 12th trick he needed to make his 
contract?

	The bidding warrants some explanation.  North’s 2♦ call was an “inverted” 
raise, promising at least four diamonds in support, invitational or better values, 
and was forcing for at least one round. South’s 3♦ call limited his hand, showing 
minimal opening values and probably no stop for notrump in either hearts or spades 
(he would likely have cue-bid 2♥ or 2♠ with such a feature as a probe for notrump, or 
might have rebid 2NT with both majors stopped).  North, with good trumps and a hand 
rich in controls, decided to gamble on the diamond slam.

	South called for dummy’s ace of hearts at trick #1, East signaling positively 
with the 10. The queen of diamonds was played at the second trick, East showing out. 
Declarer had to ruff a spade before drawing all the trumps, so he played dummy’s ace 
of spades, then a low spade, won by West, who played a second heart.  On the surface,
it looks like declarer’s only reasonable chance is to finesse the jack of hearts. 
But South felt sure that East’s encouraging signal at the first trick was honest,
and that West was unlikely to have made the opening lead from the queen against a 
slam.  So he played dummy’s king, hoping that the queen might come down.  When it 
didn’t, declarer could only continue to play the hand out, as follows:  a low diamond 
to the 10, a third spade, ruffed in dummy, then a diamond to the ace and king, 
drawing the last of West’s trumps, leaving:


				

                                   ♠ -----
                                   ♥ J
                                   ♦ -----
                                   ♣ K108

                                                  ♠ -----
                                                  ♥ Q
                                                  ♦ -----
                                                  ♣ QJ9

                                   ♠ -----
                                   ♥ 7
                                   ♦ 2
                                   ♣ A5

	During the play of the trumps, a club was discarded from dummy, and the East 
hand had to sluff down to the queen of hearts and three clubs as shown.  South 
remembered that East had followed hearts first with the 10 and 8, then had discarded 
the 9, leaving the queen as the only outstanding card in the suit higher than his 7. 
So he played his last trump, discarding the jack of hearts from dummy, and East was 
stuck.  To throw a club was suicide, so he discarded the queen of hearts, in the hope 
that his partner held the critical 7-spot.  Unfortunately for him, South held that 
card, and after playing the king and ace of clubs, cashed it for his 12th trick and 
brought in the slam.

		(Thanks to Tony Petronella for providing this deal).