Main     Column 7B52 by Richard Pavlicek    

Grand Slam Challenge

Today’s deal never occurred, but is a construction of mine that poses an interesting challenge. The bidding is shown as it might have happened. Although the final contract seems silly (seven notrump off an ace), declarer appears to be in luck when West has no club to lead and the diamond finesse works.

Ask a friend if he can make seven notrump as South with a heart lead. Chances are he will say it is cold, since declarer can win eight spades, two hearts, and three diamonds (with the finesse). You, of course, contend that he cannot.

7 NT× S
H K 2
D A Q J 8
C K Q J 10 9 8 7
Both Vul

West
4 H
Pass


North
5 C
Pass


East
Pass
Dbl


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

A closer look reveals that declarer must run the spade suit before taking the diamond finesse, and thus make eight discards from the dummy. The first seven are easy (clubs), but the last is the killer — a small diamond prevents declarer from winning three diamond tricks (he can finesse only once), as does the discard of a diamond honor.

After several failing attempts, your friend will agree that the task is impossible. But now you challenge him that you can make it! (No contract is impossible for a player of your caliber.)

The trick: Win the opening lead twice! That is, play the heart king from dummy and overtake it with your ace. As stupid as this looks, you are now in a position to make your contract on a squeeze.

On the run of the spades, West must discard down to four cards, then: (1) if West lets go a diamond, dummy keeps four diamonds and the lead of the diamond 10 gives declarer the rest of the tricks, or (2) if West keeps four diamonds (throwing all his hearts away), dummy keeps A-Q-J of diamonds and the heart deuce.

In case (2) declarer can finesse diamonds twice because the heart three is not only a winner, but also a reentry to the South hand.

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© 5-5-1985 Richard Pavlicek