No Aces

Playing computer bridge over the Internet at matchpoint duplicate, partner deals and I pick up a good hand without any aces:
 S:--- H:K93 D:KQJ1073 C:K1083.
Partner opens 1C:, RHO overcalls 1S: (surprise) and I have an easy 2D: bid. LHO raises spades and partner raises me. The opponents are done, and I have to find a good way to investigate slam. We are playing a 12-14 notrump opener, so partner ought to have either some shape or 15+ HCP. I think it is safe to venture beyond 3NT. My choice is 4S:, a splinter bid, hoping that partner, with all the right cards, can bid a slam. He bids 5C:, which is forward-going, so I bid 5S:, confirming the void and showing a heart control. He bids 6D:. I don't know enough to bid the grand, although I feel pretty confident that it will make, so I pass. Partner puts down lots of aces, but not much else:
S: 10942
H: AJ6
D: A94
C: AQ5
S: ---
H: K93
D: KQJ1073
C: K1083
West leads the S:Q, and I pause to take stock. I have eleven tricks off the top, and a possible 12th in either clubs or hearts or maybe a squeeze. If trumps are 2-2, I can ruff a club and take a heart finesse for the overtrick.

I think there is a better line of play, however, than to draw trumps and take the heart finesse. If suits are breaking reasonably, I can make 12 tricks on a dummy reversal. All I need is 4-2 clubs, 3-1 trumps, and nothing really awful. I think that must be the best line for the contract, and it probably does not give up too much chance of an overtrick.

I ruff the first trick and cash a high trump. Good, both follow. A second trump to dummy (East pitching a spade) is followed by a spade ruff. Club to dummy and another spade ruff. Another club to dummy (phew) holds, and I ruff the last spade in my hand with my last trump. On the second club, East dropped the Jack, so I cross to the H:A, draw the last trump and claim all the tricks. If it had not dropped, I would have cashed the H:K first, then crossed to the H:A and cashed the last trump. If East had the H:Q and four clubs (pretty likely) he would have been squeezed for an overtrick.

Copyright © 1995 Jeff Goldsmith