West North East South
1NT Pass1 2t2 4´3
Pass 6´ All Pass
1 A point short of a penalty double.
2 Transfer to hearts.
3 Punchy. ™Q-6 doesn't look great.
West knows that few, if any other, North-Souths
will bid to slam with him holding a weak notrump.
He must therefore defeat the slam. If he
leads the ™A, declarer will make his contract.
Declarer will win any trick-two play, draw trumps,
lead to dummy's tJ and throw two diamonds on
the ™K (having unblocked the queen) and the
®A. Twelve tricks.
However, West should break Ross's Rule. Judging
that leading the ace of hearts is likely to give declarer
two heart tricks and his slam, West leads a superpassive
Declarer can still succeed though - can you see
how? He draws a second trump finishing in hand,
then leads the ™6 towards dummy to put West in a
fork. Rise with the ace and the play is as though he'd
led the ace at trick one - twelve tricks via the
marked diamond finesse. So West plays low and the
Declarer now cashes the ®A and has a choice of
discards. In fact he can succeed whether he throws a
diamond or the ™Q. Say he throws a diamond. He
now runs all his trumps to reduce to a four-card
ending where he, West and dummy all have a heart
and three diamonds. He leads a diamond to the
jack, then exits with a heart. West wins with the ace
but must lead from his tK.
Alternatively, say declarer throws the ™Q on the
®A. He runs his trumps and as he leads his
penultimate trump, West must reduce to four
diamonds and either a club or a heart. Dummy
must reduce to four diamonds and a card of the
same suit West has retained. South leads a diamond
to the jack, ruffs that heart/club, to reduce West to
three diamonds, then ducks a diamond. West wins
cheaply, but must lead from king-ten, dummy
having ace-small and declarer queen-small.
Declarer runs the lead to the queen and again chalks
up his slam.
Do you think declarer would have made the slam
if West keeps hold of his ™A? No - nor do I - he'd
have to read the position absolutely perfectly.
Still, most of the time, remember Hugh Ross -
he'll stand you in good stead. r
June 2015 English Bridge