Main     Column 7B47 by Richard Pavlicek    

The Vanishing Trump Trick

Most bridge players would agree that their favorite pastime is a fascinating game, especially with regard to the play of the cards. Those few who do not may change their mind after reading today’s column.

The bidding led to a reasonable, though aggressive, slam contract. Observe that South’s five-club bid and North’s five-diamond bid were ace-showing bids since the partnership had already agreed on spades as the trump suit. Essentially, the slam required a successful spade finesse and a normal (three-two) spade break. Not great; but we’ve all been in worse contracts.

6 S S A 4 3
H 8 7 2
D A K 7 6 5
C K Q
Both Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass


North
1 NT
4 S
5 D


East
Pass
Pass
Pass


South
3 S
5 C
6 S
S K 7 6 5
H Q J 9 4
D J 3
C 9 4 2
Table S 2
H 10 6 5 3
D Q 10 8
C 10 7 6 5 3
Lead: H Q S Q J 10 9 8
H A K
D 9 4 2
C A J 8

West led the heart queen and declarer immediately led the spade queen for a finesse. When this held, declarer repeated the finesse, only to learn the bad news when East discarded a club. Things now looked bleak. West held a natural trump trick and there was an inescapable diamond loser as well. All roads seemed to lead to down one. Indeed, many declarers would concede defeat at this point, realizing the situation as hopeless.

But wait. Watch “Slammo, the Great” (Houdini’s long lost apprentice) perform his vanishing trump trick. Three rounds of clubs are cashed (discarding a diamond from dummy), followed by the remaining top heart and both top diamonds. Dummy’s last heart is ruffed, then declarer exits with a diamond to East (West cannot gain by ruffing his partner’s trick, so he discards his last heart).

With only two cards remaining, East must lead a heart or a club and South ruffs with the spade nine. West has two choices: (1) if he overruffs, dummy overruffs with the ace; (2) if he underruffs, dummy discards the remaining diamond. Either way, declarer captures West’s king and makes his slam.

West is still mumbling, “Where did my trump trick go?”

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© 3-31-1985 Richard Pavlicek