After a couple of weeks of boring hands along comes a very interesting hand, and it has several points of interest rolled into one. The auction, planning the play and the opening lead.
The auction starts with east, and few pairs at Ace play a system called Lucas which shows a hand with exactly 5 cards in a major and 4 or more in a minor and less than an opening bid, so it is pass from East, pass from south, now west looks at his monster hand, AKQxx,xx,AKQx,KQ 23 lovely points a good suit AKQxx and they are spades with a wonderful back up suit of AKQx in diamonds, so 2clubs is the opening bid, north has nothing to say and if the pair is playing Acol then east holds 9 points for a positive bid and a 5 card suit, yes itís a rubbish suit Jxxxx but his partner has bid 2c so he should hope that partner can help out, is the glass half full or half empty, l always prefer to think of it as a full glass with a bit missing, so 2 spades, now west can hardly believe his ears, partner has a positive and a 5 card suit and l hold AKQxx in HIS suit. West knows a lot about partners hand because he passed to start with and now he is playing catch up, and 2 spades has to be a 5+ card suit, otherwise partner would bid 2 NT a positive but no suit. Blackwood springs to mind and he hears one ace, and one king. So the contract is 6 spades, now letís ignore the lead for a moment. East as declarer sees dummy and it is an exact mirror hand both of them hold 5 spades,2 hearts 4 diamonds and 2 clubs.So there are no throw aways from either hand. Also the clubs between them they hold AKQ but only 2 each so the queen is a waste so thatís 2 points in the bin. So declarer has only 1 hope, that after drawing trumps he plays a small heart from dummy and north holds the ace of hearts, now declarer has 12 simple tricks, 5 spades, 1 heart 4 diamonds and 2 clubs, thank you very much, but unfortunately the ace of hearts is in the wrong place and there is nothing that declarer can do about it. DECLARER CANNOT MAKE THIS SLAM, but just now l said that declarer has only 1 hope, that is wrong because this is where the whole hand turns around to south as defender, what does he lead, declarer cannot make the contract but the defender on lead can make it for him.
South having heard the auction a strong 23 plus from west, a positive 8-10 from east so what does south play. He holds ace queen of hearts, now he knows that these are just about the only points that north south hold between them, partner might just about hold an odd jack somewhere. East only holds about a quarter of the points that east west hold between them, so the odds are 3 to 1 or 75%that dummy holds the king of hearts. So south must play something, does he play another suit and look at dummy and risk that declarers hearts or dummy's hearts get thrown away on a long side suit.
We played this hand as one of our first hands and because we were playing Terry and Graham we finished early and spent ages looking at this hand whilst we waited for15 plus minutes for other tables to finish. Elaine was on lead against 4 spades so didnít touch the hearts so she collected her 2 heart tricks later. We both agreed having done the sums that if we were on lead we would play the ace of hearts, not risking that the trick would disappear on a long side suit. At the club only one pair bid the slam and they were rewarded when the opening lead was the ace of hearts every other declarer played in game and made 11 tricks. So sometimes declarer has a friend at the table and itís not his partner but the defender on lead.