Yikes – a Yarborough
Oddly enough, when I picked up this hand in Bath, I found myself wondering what I'd do if partner opened 2NT. Yarboroughs are usually worthless in no trumps, but those seven clubs would have to be worth a trick or two if they were trumps. 3♣ would be Stayman, however, and 4♣ would be a strong slam try, so I'd just decided that I'd punt a 'fast-arrival' weak 5♣ when my partner really did open 2NT. Bizarre.
More bizarrely still, North came in with 4♥. What now? Well, my heart void would be quite useful in 5♣, so I bid it anyway ... and everybody passed. I was declarer in game with not a card above a 9.
5♣ went one off for a really good score. Why good? Have a look at the whole deal and you'll see: North can actually make 6♥ – and that's in spite of my partner having half the points in the pack. So getting minus 50 for 5♣ -1 is pretty cheap by comparison.
What happens in hearts?
The amazing thing about this deal is that North, who can see 20 points in his hand and dummy, knows that every missing high-card point must be with West, because of his opening 2NT bid. So she knows that West has the ♥AQ, the ♣AQ, the ♦K and the ♠KQ. All the finessing's going to be dead easy, then!
Say a club is led. Up with the ♣K and ruff West's ♣A. Then over to dummy's ♠A and lead a low diamond, finessing the ♦J, which – of course – wins. Then ruff a diamond and have some fun with the clubs: lead the ♣J and ruff West's ♣Q – and now dummy's ♣10 is a winner.
What next? Ruff another diamond in dummy and cash your ♣10, discarding a diamond. So your only remaining diamond is now the Ace.
Now lead a trump. West can take her ♥A but all the rest of the tricks are North's. A little slam on just 20 points. Marvellous.
I shouldn't have been allowed to get away with my 5♣, should I? Holding an Ace and a King, a singleton diamond and FOUR hearts, South has surely got to raise her partner to 5♥. At this point, West will, correctly but very unfortunately, double for penalties and the result is going to very pretty indeed for North-South. Luckily for me, South passed.
In Box & Bath
In Box, two tables got away with going off in 5♣, with the rest making 11 or 12 tricks in hearts. But only one of the heart contracts was doubled.
In Bath, only 2 EW pairs were allowed to get away with 5♣, and one of those was doubled. Nearly everyone else was in 5♥X, which scored a very nice 750, including the overtrick. How one NS pair ended up in 2♥ with 4 overtricks is another question altogether!