Puzzle 7F26   Main


A King’s Ransom


  by Richard Pavlicek

Can you find the winning defense to send South packing? I doubt that anyone could find it at the table! But looking at all four hands, how can 3 NT be defeated against best play?

3 NT South
E-W Vul
S A 5 4
H K J
D Q 10 8 7 6
C J 8 4
West

Pass
North

3 NT
East

All Pass
SOUTH
1 NT
S K 9 7 6 3
H 7 6 5 4
D K J
C 10 2
TableS 10 2
H 10 9 8
D A 9 2
C K 9 7 6 3
Lead: ? S Q J 8
H A Q 3 2
D 5 4 3
C A Q 5

Beware! Declarer is a shrewd dude and a master of the holdup play. For example, if West leads a spade to East’s 10, South will duck to break the defenders’ communication.

Your defense?

Solution

West must lead the C 10, which South must duck (or cover with the jack and duck East’s king). If South wins the first club, it is a simple matter for West to take the first diamond lead and clear the club suit while East has an entry.

3 NT South S A 5 4
H K J
D Q 10 8 7 6
C J 8 4
Trick
1 W
2 W
3 E
Lead
C 10!
S 3!
C 6!
2nd
4
4
Q
3rd
3
10
2
4th
5
8
8
W-L
L1
L2
W1
S K 9 7 6 3
H 7 6 5 4
D K J
C 10 2
Table S 10 2
H 10 9 8
D A 9 2
C K 9 7 6 3



Lead: C 10
S Q J 8
H A Q 3 2
D 5 4 3
C A Q 5

At trick two West must lead a low spade to East’s 10 (or East must lead the S 10 if on lead) and South again must duck to shut out the spade suit in similar fashion.

East then leads a club to South’s queen. Declarer now seems to be in good shape since the defenders lack the communication to establish clubs or spades. But the defenders have a bombshell in store:

NT win 8
Failure
S A 5
H K J
D Q 10 8 7 6
C J
Trick
4 S
5 E
6 S
Lead
D 3
C 7
S Q
2nd
J!
A
6!
3rd
Q
D K!
5
4th
A
J
2
W-L
L1
W1
W2
S K 9 7 6
H 7 6 5 4
D K J
C
Table S 2
H 10 9 8
D A 9 2
C K 9 7



South leads
S Q J
H A Q 3 2
D 5 4 3
C A

South leads a diamond; jack, queen, ace. East returns a club and — sound the trumpets — West jettisons the D K. This presents declarer with a diamond winner, but since hearts are blocked, there is no way to score nine tricks. Note that East still has a diamond stopper with the guarded nine, and West can stop hearts if declarer overtakes an honor on the second round.

If declarer could unblock hearts before leading a diamond from hand, he could succeed; but if hearts are unblocked, the diamond must be led from dummy, else cross to the C A which is certain failure. Indeed, there is no way to make 3 NT with the given defense.

Puzzle 7F26   MainTop   A King’s Ransom

© 1995 Richard Pavlicek