Main     Puzzle 7E81 by Richard Pavlicek    

Tough Victim

After a cue-bidding frenzy, you talk yourself into believing you can stretch 27 HCP into a slam. Well, can you? One thing’s sure: West will be a tough victim to bring in line.

6 S by South

None Vul
S A Q 6
H J 3 2
D A 5 4 3 2
C K 2
S 2
H K Q 10
D K Q J 10 9 8
C Q 4 3
TableS 5 4 3
H 9 8 7
D 7 6
C 10 9 8 7 6
Lead: D KS K J 10 9 8 7
H A 6 5 4
D
C A J 5

West

2 D
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

3 D
3 S
4 D
5 C
5 S
East

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
3 H
4 C
4 H
5 D
6 S

Eleven tricks are easy by ruffing a club in dummy, and it seems like your best chance for 12 is to endplay West. If you could reach a three-card ending where West has H K-Q-10, a low heart from hand will do the job. Alas, it can’t be done, because you must lead all your trumps, and West will simply keep H K-Q and a good diamond.

Can you find the way to make 6 S?

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Solution

Instead of ruffing your third club for an 11th trick, you must negotiate four diamond ruffs in hand. The dummy reversal produces 11 tricks in the form of three spades, one heart, five diamonds (ace + four ruffs) and two clubs. Then with perfect timing you can squeeze West in hearts and clubs.

Do not win the D A, but ruff the lead in hand; cross to dummy with a trump; ruff a diamond, and lead a low heart. West wins, and his only safe return is a third diamond (East pitching a heart) as you ruff in hand. Next cash the H A; cross to the C K; ruff a fourth diamond; then lead your last trump, overtaking in dummy to reach this ending:

S 6
H J
D A
C 2
S
H K
D J
C Q 4
TableS 5
H
D
C 10 9 8
S
H 6 5
D
C A J

The S 6 draws the last trump, as you pitch a heart, and West a diamond. Finally, the D A squeezes West; he must keep the H K with the jack in view, so he’ll pitch a club, and the queen comes tumbling down.

Trap: If the D A is taken on the first or second round, East is able to pitch all his hearts to prevent South from unblocking the H A (Vienna coup), necessary for the squeeze.

A curious and remarkable feature is that the final squeeze card against West is the ace in his own long suit.

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek