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Forewarned was forearmed

The 4-0 spade split threatened to wreck today’s 7  , kindly sent in by Simon Stocken of Yorkshire. However, West’s Lightner Double of 7 told declarer he held no spades. Forewarned was forearmed.

South Deals
None Vul
K 4
K Q 4 3 2
10 7 3 2
10 9 8 5 3 2
K J 9 8 6 5
W   E
J 8 7 4
Q J 7 6
J 10 9
Q 4
Q 10 9 6 5 3 2
A 7 6 5
West North East South
2 1 3  4  4 
6 2 6  Pass 7 3
Dbl4 7 5 All pass  
  1. Michaels, showing five-five (or more) in hearts and a minor.
  2. Advance sacrifice.
  3. Offering a choice of grand slams.
  4. Lightner Double, able to ruff a spade.
  5. Sensible removal

Declarer saw a ray of hope. He would need to reduce his trump length to the same as East’s and finish in dummy at trick 12, holding  Q10 over East’s  J8. Perfect timing would be required and he would need to find East with three diamonds — not so unlikely given West’s exotic bidding.

After winning trick one with his bare ace of hearts, at trick two declarer cashed the bare ace of clubs. At trick three, he cashed the ace of diamonds, following at trick four with a low diamond to dummy’s king.

When West discarded on the second diamond, declarer’s heart leapt. He was going to succeed. He cashed the king of hearts, discarding a diamond, and ruffed a club. At trick seven, declarer crossed to the queen of diamonds, leaving this position:

4 3
10 7
9 8 5
K J 9
W   E
J 8 7 4
Q 10 9 6 5 3

Declarer ruffed a minor, East discarding a heart, and for the first time (trick nine) led over to a top spade (any earlier and he would have gone down). He ruffed a minor, crossed to the other top spade and, oh joy, held Q10 over East’s J8. Thirteen tricks and grand slam made.

I find it extraordinary that to make 7, you have to delay leading a spade to dummy until trick nine. The subtle reason for this is you need to use dummy’s diamond entries before the spade entries, otherwise East can discard a diamond as you ruff the third club (in the trump-shortening process) and ruff a diamond. Would declarer have made 7 if West had kept his trap shut? No chance. Then there’d have been no story.

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