My regular partner Enrico Castellani and I did not shine at this year’s Italian Open IMP Pairs Championship, finishing in 15th place in a field of 208 competitors, but a couple of hands proved most brilliant. I’ll let the frequencies introduce my story - out of thirteen NS pairs, five rather embarrassingly went down in 3NT, with an excellent Six Club contract available. We reached it on this auction:

My partner bypassed 3NT giving full value to his pointed pictures cards and spade suit with four clubs then checked for the grand slam, just in case I had held any useful extras. East led a heart, which ran to my queen, I played the queen and king of clubs, revealing the bad break. Next, I cashed AK spades getting good news, and continued with the jack of spades pitching a diamond. West erred pitching a heart, allowing me to produce a classic trump coup ending. I trumped a spade (a too little too late diamond from West), played ace of hearts and ruffed a heart, then entered dummy with the king of diamonds, leaving:

On the last spade West was powerless: he decided to pitch the jack of hearts, but I ditched the ace of diamonds to score the last two tricks thanks to my club tenace over West.

Then on the penultimate board of the final:

We were the only pair in the field to reach the excellent Six Spades (it goes down only when the Queen of spades is third with South, and no extra chance materialises: so it makes roughly 95% of the time), the cherry on the icing of the cake being the thirteenth trick.

South led the king of hearts. Enrico won, ruffed a heart, cashed the king of spades and ruffed another heart before cashing the ace of spades. He then tabled the jack of diamonds, covered and overtaken, leaving:

Now playing trumps squeezes South in the minors to make all thirteen tricks. Nicely done!