Timing is everything

Hand of the Week

Dlr:
South
VUL:
Both
North
♠ A K Q 8 3
K Q J 5
J 7 5
♣ 6

South
♠ —
A 8 7 3
A K 8 6 4 2
♣ A 5 4
 West North East South 1♦ 2♣ 2♠ Pass 3♥ Pass 4NT Pass 5♣ Pass 5NT Pass 6♦ Pass 6♥ All Pass

After an auction that began in a natural way, North asked for key cards with 4NT and confirmed that all were present with 5NT. Your 6 admitted to the K, and North left it to you to bid the grand slam.

West leads the ♣K, and East signals that he began with an odd number. You win the ♣A and cash the K and Q. Alas, West follows to the first trump but throws a club on the second. How do you plan to take another nine tricks?

Solution

Obviously, you must play diamonds next. There will be no problems if the suit is 2-2 or the Q drops on the first round of the suit. Also, as the defense will prevail if East has void in diamonds, the aim must be to cope with East having a low singleton diamond originally.
Suppose the full deal is:

Dlr:
South
VUL:
Both
North
♠ A K Q 8 3
K Q J 5
J 7 5
♣ 6
West
♠ J 10 5
6
Q 10 3
♣ K Q J 10 7 3
East
♠ 9 7 6 4 2
10 9 4 2
9
♣ 9 8 2
South
♠ —
A 8 7 3
A K 8 6 4 2
♣ A 5 4

You play a diamond to the ace, ruff a club low in dummy and lead a second round of diamonds. It will do East no good to ruff in the second seat for he will be ruffing a loser and the rest of the tricks will be yours. So he will discard a club and the K wins the trick.

Now you must abandon diamonds because if you concede a diamond to West’s queen, he will play a club and you will have to ruff with dummy’s jack and East will make a trick with the 10 9. Something similar would happen if you had discarded your remaining club on a spade winner too.

Instead, you must now ruff your last club with dummy’s jack of trumps and cash the three spade winners, throwing diamonds from hand. A fourth round of spades now sees you make two tricks with your remaining A 8. Your only loser will be the diamond you play at trick 13.

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