The Real Deal

This deal is from the U.S. versus Europe match in the 2010 Buffet Cup played in Wales:
♠ 7
A 10 8 2
K Q J 8
♣ A Q 10 6
♠ A 8
K Q 5
A 9 4 3
♣ 7 5 4 3
North opened 1♣. After East’s Pass, what should South bid?
Although some players like to bash with 3NT, I think it is better to go slowly and scientifically with 1. I don’t see the need to insist on 3NT
without investigating.
Over South’s 1, West bids 2♠.
At the table, North bid 3♠. This is not a Western cuebid per se — it just shows a good hand.
East bid 4♠, and South was now interested in slam. He chose to bid 5NT to say, “Partner, pick a slam.”
North picked diamonds, so this was the auction to the small slam:

West North East South
1♣ Pass 1
2♠ 3♠ 4♠ 5NT
Pass 6 All Pass

How should South play on the ♠K lead?
Other than the club suit, South looks to be in good shape. At the table, he won the ♠A and played a club to trick two, intending to finesse. This is fairly safe, because West would likely have led a singleton club had he held only one. When the club was played from hand, West produced the king. This is a case of good news/bad news. The good news: The ♣K is onside. The bad news: It looks as if East might have started with ♣J 9 8 2, which could mean two club losers for declarer.
After winning the ♣A, what should declarer do next? It looks like time to start trumps and two high ones from dummy show that West started with 10 7 5 2. East throws a spade on the second round of diamonds. Now what?
It seems that West started with six spades and four diamonds and 2–1 or 1–2 in hearts and clubs. Can you see the trouble East will be in if he started with J–x–x–x in both clubs and
hearts? Declarer should cross to the K to ruff his spade loser in dummy. Then play dummy’s last high trumpand come to the Q to leave:
♠ —
A 10

♣ Q 10 6
♠ —
♣ 7 5 4
Declarer plays the A to draw West’s last trump. What should he throw from dummy?
Any low card should work.
At this point, you expect East is down to J 9 and ♣J 9 8.
Let’s say you throw a low club from dummy. What will East keep?
He can’t throw a heart, because that will set up dummy’s 10, so, he discards a club. Now, East has J–x in each suit.
You cross to dummy with either a club or heart and then throw East in. He has to give dummy the last two tricks. This was the full deal:

Dlr: North ♠ 7
Vul: N-S A 10 8 2
K Q J 8
♣ A Q 10 6
♠ K Q 6 5 4 2 ♠ J 10 9 3
7 4 J 9 6 3
10 7 5 2 6
♣ K ♣ J 9 8 2
♠ A 8
K Q 5
A 9 4 3
♣ 7 5 4 3

Let’s follow the play with all cards in view.
Declarer won the spade lead and played a club to West’s king and dummy’s ace. Next came two high trumps from dummy. Then declarer led to the K to ruff a spade. Dummy’s last trump was cashed and declarer came to the Q to draw the last trump. East did not enjoy the process at all. No matter what he keeps, declarer can always throw him in at trick 11. A well-earned plus 1370 for North–South.

The Zoom Room is available Monday through Friday, 3:30 pm-5:30 pm (Eastern).

Getting help is easier than ever with the ACBL Zoom Chat service.
Simply click the "Join Zoom Chat" button below to be taken to our dedicated zoom room.
Once there, click the "Launch Meeting" button to start your session. To hear us and vice-versa - don't forget to "Join with computer audio."

If the Zoom Room isn't available and you need answers, you can email us at

Join Zoom Chat