Main     Column 7D49 by Richard Pavlicek    

Old Puzzle Gets New Lease on Life

Today’s deal was certified as “unmakable against best defense” in an old bridge-puzzle book. Usually such a claim is well-founded, implying an exhaustive analysis; but this one contained an oversight. Read along and see if you can spot it.

The original deal included no bidding, so I constructed a plausible auction. West opens one heart, North overcalls in clubs, and South bids two spades. North perhaps should pass this because of his junky values, but the contract had to be three spades. Guess what North bids?

3 S S Q J 9
H Q 3
D J 2
C A Q J 7 6 2
Both Vul

West
1 H
Pass


North
2 C
3 S


East
Pass
All Pass


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

Assume West leads a low diamond to East’s ace. East returns the heart jack, ducked to the king; West cashes his diamond king and exits with a heart. How do you continue after winning the queen?

With the king of clubs onside, it appears that you need only to force out the ace of spades and draw trumps. But beware. Let’s say you lead dummy’s spade queen and overtake with the king (note that you have equivalent spot cards). West ducks. If you lead another trump, West will lead a third heart which you must ruff in dummy (else East will ruff); then you must lead clubs from dummy.

A better plan is to take the club finesse when you win the first spade trick… no, that doesn’t work either. Whether you cash the ace of clubs or not, West can lock you in dummy with another heart; then East will get a club ruff. How aggravating! There must be some way. Got any ideas?

I may have led you astray in the heart suit when I wrote “after winning the queen.” Curiously, you must overtake with the ace. The rest flows easily: Club finesse; club ace; spade queen to the king (West ducks); heart ruff; spade. West cannot prevent you from drawing East’s last trump and making your contract.

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© 9-10-1989 Richard Pavlicek