John Burroughs, who was a naturalist, opined: “The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.”
Today’s deal does not look so difficult as long as West finds the best opening lead, but it proved deceptive at Bridge Base Online. Only one pair defeated four hearts, and 14 failed. How did the pair succeed after West led the club four?
South’s three-spade rebid was a splinter, but it was a waste of time. For a slam to be makeable, North needed to have three first-round controls, which was impossible for a single raise. Why give the defenders free information? Given that, though, South still had a choice. He could have jumped straight to four hearts. That would have been fine if everyone passed. But what if West competed with four spades? Should South double or bid five hearts? He would not be sure. So he should show his club suit, then leave the decision to his partner. I would rebid four clubs to announce at least 5-5 in the rounded suits. I think this length-showing rebid is much more useful than a splinter.
East took the first trick with his club ace and returned the club three, a suit-preference signal for diamonds. Declarer won with dummy’s 10 and played a trump to his king, but West took the trick and shifted, as requested, to a diamond. East won with his other ace and gave his partner a club ruff to defeat the contract. West just needed a heart higher than dummy’s seven.