A hand that needs a bit of thinking

Straight into the hand this week because I want you to do a bit of thinking in addition to the usual bit of reading.

You pick up, vulnerable against not, this lovely collection:

As you are admiring your hand, you see left-hand opponent open the bidding with three Spades, partner doubles and right-hand opponent bids four Spades ó over to you!

Despite your lack of Aces, you are certain that a slam is available in Hearts, the only question being whether it should be the small slam or do you try for the grand?

Iíve written before that when you bid a grand slam you should pretty much be able to claim the contract without seeing dummy, and you clearly canít do that here.

Also, you donít want to crucify partner for entering the bidding, so you bid six Hearts and that becomes the final contract. West leads the Spade Ace and you see this dummy:

I am going to walk you through the first bit of the play and then ask you to finish things off ó you ruff the Spade and draw two rounds of Trumps, East on your right showing out on the second Trump.

Now you hold off grabbing your Diamonds and play a Club ó East wins the Ace and plays another Spade. You ruff and play two more Clubs and everyone follows ó any thoughts? Give it a go ó retrace the bidding and the play and see whether it tells you anything.

OK, here goes. West has shown seven Spades with his opening pre-empt, has followed to two rounds of Hearts and to three rounds of Clubs ó that totals 12, so he has at most a singleton Diamond!

So you play the Ace of Diamonds and then a low one and when East plays low on the second round you have to have courage and insert the nine. The full hand:

Not that difficult? By delaying the Diamond play until you had done some scouting, you figured out the right play to make your contract. Notice that it would be wrong for East to play the 10 of Diamonds on the second round because that makes it too easy for you ó you would win the Queen and when West shows out, you cross back to dummy and lead a third Diamond to finesse Eastís Jack.

All this from being patient in the play, and doing some work to count out Westís hand ó a big reward for not a ton of work!