Australian Bridge ( is edited and published six times a year by Brad Coles. It has the usual blend of tournament reports, amusing and instructive articles, quizzes, and a bidding panel with a readers’ competition.

In this problem provided by Ron Klinger, what should West lead against six spades? No peeking at the other three hands!

In the auction, North used Stayman, then made a four-club splinter bid. This showed four-card spade support, a singleton (or void) in clubs, and at least gameforcing values. South, with nothing wasted in clubs, rolled out Roman Key Card Blackwood. North’s five clubs indicated one key card. Five diamonds asked for the spade queen. Five no-trump showed it and denied a redsuit king.

It is tempting to lead the club ace to get a look at the dummy and decide where to try to win a second trick. However, unless that trick is a ruff, usually you should try immediately to establish a trick that you can cash when in with your ace.

The chance that partner has a void in a red suit is surely zero. So, where might you build up a winner? The best chance is to find partner with the heart queen. Bruce Neill, who has represented Australia in seven world championships, did lead a low heart, the only start to defeat the slam. Declarer drew trumps and discarded his heart losers on dummy’s diamonds, but then had to lose two club tricks.

Be aggressive against small slams, cautious against grand slams.

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