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On the Edge

Dlr:
East
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ A Q J 7 5
J 8 5 3
♣ Q 10 7 4
South
♠ K 9 8 6 4
A Q
A J 7 5 4
♣ 3
West North
(Pender)
East South
(Ross)
Pass 1♠
Dbl Redbl 2♣ Pass
Pass 4 Pass 4NT
Pass 6♠ All Pass

In the Eighties, Peter Pender and Hugh Ross formed one of ACBL’s top partnerships. Ross showed how well he can play the cards on this deal from the Reisinger Board-a-Match Teams in 1981.

The bidding was aggressive (4NT was ace-asking, and Pender went straight to slam because he figured his void was important), but Ross justified his partner’s confidence by bringing home the slam.

West led the ♦K, and Ross pitched a heart from dummy as he won the A. The auction indicated the K was with West, so Ross looked around for a way to avoid taking a losing finesse.

At trick two, Ross led a club to the 10 in dummy. East won the ♣K and returned a trump, taken in dummy. When he ruffed a club in hand and the jack appeared from West, Ross began to hope that his plan might work. Ross ruffed a diamond in dummy and ruffed another club, dropping the ace. He had to hope that North, now out of clubs, also was out of trumps. He ruffed a diamond in dummy and played the good ♣Q, holding his breath and pitching the Q from hand. When the ♣Q held, Ross was able to crossruff, winning nine trump tricks plus two red aces and the ♣Q.

Note that Ross could not have afforded to pull the outstanding trump after ruffing out the ♣A – he needed dummy’s three trumps to take care of his three losing diamonds. An initial trump lead would have defeated the slam, but that’s difficult to find and Ross still had to come up with the winning line after the diamond lead.

Dlr:
East
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ A Q J 7 5
J 8 5 3
♣ Q 10 7 4
West
♠ 10
K 10 9 7
K Q 10 9 3
♣ A J 2
East
♠ 3 2
6 4 2
8 6 2
♣ K 9 8 6 5
South
♠ K 9 8 6 4
A Q
A J 7 5 4
♣ 3