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Common Game 2018-01-13 Board 8
West
42
KJ87
105
AJ743
North
A10973
A
AK3
Q982
East
QJ
Q106543
9864
5
South
K865
92
QJ72
K106
D
8
West
North
East
South
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Analysis by Craig Hemphill

The diagrammed auction is a bit timid by North, but the alternatives are not convincing: 1 - 3; 4 will leave South with little alternative to a slightly rueful 4, for North's missing control is present in the South hand, but there is no bid for South to make to convey that fact, other than a "Last Train" 4. For those who can handle that Meckwellian convention, more power to you. In general, the lack of definition of that 4 bid leads to a lack of clarity of the meaning of the bid itself. However, it would work wonders here -- having denied a club control with 4, and having heard South promise a club control with 4 (while being ambiguous about hearts), North can sail into 1430 Roman Keycard Blackwood and then decide on whether to risk slam missing the Q. Caution and conventional wisdom tell North not to be greedy and to sign off in 5.

You'd better sign off, for there are two pitfalls. The easiest defense to beat a slam is to lead a singleton and find partner with that ace, achieving two fast tricks. East will invariably choose that defense with these cards, and that's that.

The other pitfall which might doom the slam is that for those defenders who do NOT lead a club, declarer must still overcome "Restricted Choice !" That is, when declarer goes about drawing trumps, beginning with the K, East will drop either the queen or jack, perforce (there are some who think that macho males will drop the queen invariably, but it's better just to follow the restricted choice concepts, rather than relying on psychological factors). The principle of Restricted Choice is mathematically based, and suggests that the odds are now 2-1 in favor of taking a finesse against the remaining honor, regardless of whether it is the queen or jack.

Well, it seems that today North is destined to take just 11 tricks, regardless of the approach. Even if East were to lead the J, I'd guess that most declarers would take a second round finesse against West.

Much ado about not so very much, in the final analysis.

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