X-Clubs 43

Welcome to the New Year with a very tricky bidding and play problem.

Board 21 from a RealBridge session on Monday 16-Jan
Dealer North NS Vul


The NS hands should surely be bid to a slam, but WHICH slam? How do NS avoid the disastrous heart slam? When we look at the NS hands we can see that if 6H makes then 6NT will also make, but if 6H fails, there is still a chance of making 6NT, at least if South is playing it, according to Deep Finesse. But the way the bidding is likely to go, it is North who will play 6NT. Yes, there is only one way, according to DF, to defeat 6NT by North, can you find it? I suspect a heart lead will do it, but given any other opening lead, is the play suggested by DF the most sensible? I think not, because in both 6H and 6NT the simple way to look at it is: more than one heart loser must be avoided, so how best to do that?

I considered two options: cash the heart ace and then lead from dummy and put up the queen, which I believe is slightly better than a first round heart finesse. Then I changed my mind and ran the eight of hearts, which would also work when East had the J10 OR the king. Does anyone know the best percentage line to play the heart suit? But if the heart suit is pivotal, we should play in 6NT in case the hearts don’t work but there is another way to come to 12 tricks without the hearts. How do we play in 6NT when we have a 5-3 heart fit and other suits well covered? There should be a way for a competent partnership to find out that North’s support is tenuous despite three card support (or that despite only two card support it is strong e.g. KQ, KJ or K10. I have the answer with some partners, do you? If you do, please tell me how YOU and your partner would have bid these hands.

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