A Brief, Shining Moment
We witnessed this convoluted auction in a team event at the recent Butte Regional between a very good experienced player sitting north and a relatively inexperienced player sitting south. I was west, holding the J-10-9 and two more spades, and listened carefully as my opponents appeared to settle in the contract of six spades. They appeared to do this because after north bid six spades, his partner in south sat and thought for at least two full minutes on the clock—a long, long time in bridge auctions—before he finally came out with the bid of seven hearts, a vulnerable grand slam if it made. I was disappointed that they had not stopped in the spade slam because I had two tricks in spades no matter what if spades were trumps, and knew the slam would go down.
I did not know that seven hearts would go down because my spades were worthless in a heart contract, but I still had hopes. My first was that I held the diamond queen, and my second was that the declarer might try to run spade tricks, not knowing that the suit was badly split. Finally I hoped that the declarer might make a mistake in the play, being the less experienced player of the two opponents.
Alas, for our side, the player who bid seven hearts also played it like a pro. I led a club, knocking out his club stopper immediately, but he set up the diamonds and came to 13 tricks via four diamonds, one club, three spades and five hearts. He drew trumps in three rounds and had an extra heart in each hand with which to score a trump trick.
I was positive our partners would reach a small slam on the hand, and they did by bidding to six hearts. However, our teammate who played the hand and is a very experienced player thought that setting up the diamonds was against the percentages and tried to set up the spades, so he went down in six hearts!