Peggy Malaspina and Derrick Niederman, who arrived at our little slice of heaven from Charleston, SC, are leading players who have won pairs events at the regional level. We were honored to have them at the Edgartown Bridge Club on July 31.

When they came to our table, I said, “You guys probably have a zillion master points.”

“Half a  zillion,” Niederman said with a smile. (They’ve each won 5,800.)

Not only did they finish first with a 59.9 percent game, they also bid a slam (at our expense) no one else even imagined. They were sitting North-South, with East dealing and both sides vulnerable:

                                    NORTH (Malaspina)
                                   ♠️ K J 10 9 8
                                   ♦️ A 9 7
                                   ♣️ K 6 4 3 2

WEST                                                                        EAST
♠️  Q 2                                                                      ♠️ 4 3
♥️ A K 10 8 6                                                           ♥️ Q J 9 7 5 4 2
♦️ K Q 10 8 6                                                           ♦️ J 4 3
♣️ 7                                                                           ♣️ 9

                                ♠️ A 7 6 5
                               ♥️ 3
                               ♦️ 5 2
                               ♣️ A Q J 10 8 5

The bidding proceeded as follows:

East             South             West           North
Pass             1♣️               1♥️           1♠️
4♥️             4♠️               Pass           5♦️
Pass             6♠️               All Pass

Opening lead: ♥️Q

Declarer ruffed the opening lead, drew two rounds of trump and ran the clubs. In the end North-South lost just one diamond, making six for a nifty +1430 score.
How did they get to slam with only 22 high-card points? The double fit in clubs and spades was one key.  Another was the 5♦️ bid hinting at a possible slam.
“He supported my spades, and I have five spades and five clubs to go with him,” Malaspina says.”I bid 5♦️ to show a control. I didn’t want to bid clubs because I didn’t have the ace. And I didn’t want to bid hearts because I would have bypassed diamonds.”

Niederman says: “Given the opposition’s heart bids, I figured we might be playing with a 30-point deck and that partner needed my short heart to make a slam. Well, they indeed held 10 points in hearts, but little did I know partner was void. In any case, partner had everything else covered, and my singleton heart was the ticket for bidding slam. Interesting hand in that partner and I sharply upgraded our 11-point hands.”