Never claim the rest of the tricks too soon. I learned this lesson the hard way a couple years ago at a sectional tournament, when I claimed the rest of the tricks, threw down my remaining cards and watched with dismay as Chris Urbanek called the director and contended that I could have played it in such a way that I would lose (even though I maintained that I wouldn’t). On Friday at the Airport Bridge Club, partner Usha Khurana learned it the hard way on Board 19. I was North, she was South and she was dealer. East-West – Dianne Bloom and Jerry Geiger – were vulnerable. We weren’t. Usha opened the bidding with 1 Club and I immediately smelled a slam:
Spades: A-Q-2; Hearts: K-Q-10-6; Diamonds: K-Q-J-7; Clubs: A-2.
Twenty-one high card points. A 2 No Trump opener. But where to play it? I bid a Diamond to see whether Usha had a four-card major suit. She bid 1 No Trump, denying it. Since she had an opening hand and must have values somewhere – at least one of the missing Aces – I saw no reason not to go for the gusto. 6 No Trump.
Geiger led a Club, which Usha won with my Ace, and although she seemed a little nervous playing the slam, she got more confident as the tricks came down. She knocked out the missing Ace of Diamonds, ran the winning Diamonds and Hearts, then laid down her hand and claimed the rest. Not so fast, Geiger said. He would get a Club. It turned out he started out with six of them and his long Jack would be good. We’re down one. Everybody else made the 6 No Trump slam. Here are the other hands.
Spades: K-J-4; Hearts: A-5; Diamonds: 6-5-4; Clubs: K-Q-9-8-6.
Spades: 9-8-6; Hearts: J-4-3; Diamonds: 2; Clubs: J-10-7-5-4-3.
Spades: 10-7-5-3; Hearts: 9-8-7-2; Diamonds: A-10-9-8-3; Clubs: none.
Chuck Schorr, who was playing with club director Bill Finkelstein, said he opened a Club and Bill jumped straight to 6 No Trump. With North as declarer, there’s no Club lead. At any rate, there should be no trouble making 6 NT. And Usha probably would have, if she played out all the tricks. Three Spades, three or four Hearts, depending on what East throws on the Club tricks, two or three Diamonds, three Clubs.