Puzzle 7F18 Main

# Valentine Magic

by Richard Pavlicek

South appears to have mistaken Valentine’s Day for Christmas in the bidding, as the final bid is more than a tad optimistic. Perhaps you can save the day and find a way to make this grand slam — or at least give it a try before you look at the answer.

 North deals Q 5 2 West North East South N-S vul Q 6 3 1 NT Pass 2 A K J 9 8 Pass 2 Pass 3 A 4 Pass 4 Pass 4 NT J 7 6 K 4 3 Pass 5 Pass 7 9 8 7 5 2 All Pass 7 3 10 6 5 4 2 Q J 10 6 5 9 8 7 A 10 9 8 A K J 10 4 Lead: Q Q 7 South K 3 2

At first the contract looks easy, as declarer has 12 top tricks (five hearts, four diamonds, two clubs, one spade) and can ruff a low club in dummy for 13. Not true! If you ruff a club, you cannot win four diamond tricks, because the suit is blocked.

Are you a magician? Take it from there.

 Puzzle 7F18 Main Top Valentine Magic

## Solution

Since declarer has 12 tricks, either in high cards or by ruffing a club at the expense of a diamond trick, the first idea would be a squeeze. Perhaps East can be squeezed, since he holds the K and a diamond stopper. No, East will discard after dummy so it will not work.

The solution is indeed based on a squeeze, but not the ordinary kind. Both opponents are involved in a double ruffout squeeze. The ending is difficult to spot because a key element — North’s 5 — appears to be irrelevant opposite South’s 10-9-8.

Win the club lead in hand and cash K-J, or any two trumps as long as you save the queen.

 7 South Q 5 2 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th Q 6 3 1. W Q 4! 7 K A K J 9 8 2. S K 7 3 2 A 4 3. S J 8 6 5 J 7 6 K 4 3 4. S Q 3 K! 2 9 8 7 5 2 5. N 9 10 10 7 7 3 10 6 5 4 2 6. S A! 6 2 3 Q J 10 6 5 9 8 7 7. S 4 9 Q 4 A 10 9 8 8. N A 5 8 5 A K J 10 4 9. N J 6 9 6 Q continued below… K 3 2

Next lead the Q and overtake in dummy to run the 9. Assume East covers with the 10 (if not pitch a spade and ruff the 8); ruff with the 10 (or any heart) and cash the A (key play). Cross to the Q and win two more diamonds to reach this ending:

 win 4 Q 5 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th — 10. N 8 8 10 7 8 11. N Q! A Declarer succeeds J 7 K 4 — — — — J 10 9 8 10 A — North leads 3 2

Now lead the good 8 to pitch your remaining spade. East must discard a club (else his K ruffs out) then West is in trouble. If West throws a spade, dummy’s queen is led through East to smother the jack and establish the 5. If West instead throws a club, the A is cashed and South wins the last trick with the 3 — or more dramatically, the carefully preserved 2.

 Puzzle 7F18 Main Top Valentine Magic