Neither vulnerable, South deals.


xA 6 3

uQ 10 6


wQ J 6 5 3 2


xK 9 2 x10 7 5 4

u8 4 3 2 u5

vA 7 6 4 vQ 10 5 3 2

wK 10 w8 7 4


xQ J 8

uA K J 9 7

vK J 8

wA 9

The bidding:


1u Pass 3u- Pass

4w Pass 4v Pass

4u Pass 4x Pass

5v Pass 5u All pass

-Limit raise, 10-11 support points

Opening lead: Two of u

The North-South cue bid auction came to a halt at the five level. Perhaps North was too ambitious when he continued past game, but he thought his club suit might be important after South’s four-club bid.

South won the opening trump lead in his hand with the seven. This looked pretty simple -- give up the king of clubs, then draw the trumps and discard his losers on dummy’s club suit. Declarer cashed the ace of clubs at trick two and continued with another club. West won with his king and stopped to think.

It looked like declarer had 11 easy tricks -- five hearts, five clubs, and the ace of spades. The 4-1 trump split meant that the ace of spades would be needed as an entry to the clubs after the trumps were drawn. To attack this entry, West shifted brilliantly to the king of spades! This might cost an overtrick if he lost his ace of diamonds, but it could never cost the contract.

South won with dummy’s ace of spades and would have had an easy overtrick had the trumps split 3-2. He led dummy’s 10 of hearts and was disappointed to see East show out. His only chance now was for East to hold the ace of diamonds. Should West gain the lead again, he could always lead another trump to defeat him, so South led a diamond to his king. West won and led a trump, leaving South with two diamond losers. The Merrimac Coup, the name for king of spades play, had defeated the contract by two tricks. Nice play!

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