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Michael Rosenberg on a Grand Slam

Sabine Auken in her eulogy for the Rosenbergs on the occasion on their triumph in mixed championships reminds us of a fascinating grand slam preserved for the students of the game thanks to Michael. Unfortunately the deal has never been fully analyzed in the bridge literature. Let us recall the setting.

North
AJ432
AK92
K5
K7
South
Q65
QJ10876
A2
A9

Declarer who cannot afford to lose a trick postpones the play of the spade suit until the eleventh trick. To the tenth trick the LHO contributes a small spade whereupon declarer credits him with ♠10987 and goes from the top as the ♠K on the right is his last remaining hope. Right? Not quite!

A Helgemo or a Fredin on your left could have also produced an unforced spade discard from ♠Kxx. Couldn't he? In fact he should from time to time. Yes, you have guessed it already; theoretically the LHO is well advised to avail himself of a mixed strategy.

The so-called max-min strategy for the LHO here is to play a spade rather than a club or a diamond when holding one, exactly five times out of eighteen; for the declarer, to cash the ♠A next when holding ♠Qxx but to finesse from ♠QTx.

The relevance of this theoretical solution for real table play, including a post-morten, is another matter. However, it is worth noting that disposing of a spade from ♠K9x when the partner happens to hold ♠10x can be the result of a randomization rather than a spectacular case of a Grosvenor.

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