Puzzle 7F19   Main

by Richard Pavlicek

North’s raise to 5 is justified, but South’s final bid seems to be from outer space. The wild stab at 7  appears destined to fail. Even assuming declarer drops West’s singleton K, there are only 12 tricks. A diamond loser seems inevitable.

But wait! If West leads a low spade, he gives declarer an extra trick. The same is true of a low heart or a low diamond. Further, declarer might be able to develop a squeeze if West finds a safe lead.

 7 SouthNone Vul J Q K 10 6 4 Q J 10 9 8 7 6 West1 All Pass North5 EastPass SOUTH1 7 ? Q 9 8 6 4 2 K 10 6 Q 9 2 K 10 7 3 J 9 7 3 2 J 7 3 3 2 Lead: ? A K 5 A 8 5 4 A 8 5 A 5 4

Against this extraterrestrial contract I say, “Take me to your leader!” What is the only card in West’s hand that will defeat 7  against any play by declarer?

## Solution

First let’s see how declarer is able to make his contract on a squeeze. Suppose West leads the K (declarer will drop it anyway). Win the A and lead two more rounds of trumps (optional).

 7 South J Q K 10 6 4 Q J 10 9 8 7 6 Trick1 W2 S3 N4 N5 S6 N7 S8 S Lead K? 4 J Q 4 J K 5 2nd6 2 231038K 3rd2Q5A 7A 4 8 4thA3 467679 W-LW1W2W3W4W5W6W7W8 Q 9 8 6 4 2 K 10 6 Q 9 2 K 10 7 3 J 9 7 3 2 J 7 3 3 2 Lead: K A K 5 A 8 5 4 A 8 5 A 5 4

Next lead the Q to the ace and ruff a heart; lead the J to the ace, cash the K and ruff another heart to reach the ending below:

 win allSuccess — — K 10 6 10 9 Trick9 N10 N Lead 10 9 2nd 3? 3rd 5 4th 9 W-LW1 Q 9 — Q 9 2 — 10 J J 7 3 — North leads 5 8 A 8 5 —

The 10 lead from dummy puts East under pressure. A heart discard loses immediately, so assume East lets go his spade; South throws a diamond, and West throws a spade. Now the 9 effects a double squeeze: East must pitch a diamond; South throws his now useless heart, then West is squeezed.

Variation: If East keeps the 10 and lets go a diamond, the next club squeezes him again. If he throws a spade, West is squeezed in spades and diamonds; if he throws another diamond, the A drops his jack and West can be finessed.

### Can any lead prevent this?

Yes. First thoughts might turn to the Q (crushing the jack) or the K (crushing the queen) but these are red herrings that do nothing to prevent the squeeze.

The squeeze position requires a twin entry in diamonds, which West can erase by leading that suit; but which diamond? A low diamond is obviously disastrous; dummy plays low and declarer can pick up the entire suit. What about the queen? Better, but still failing; declarer can win the K, ruff hearts twice as before, then squeeze East in the red suits.

The only lead to defeat 7 is the diamond nine. This delicately holds the diamond position, and declarer cannot benefit. Try it.