Main     Puzzle 7F26 by Richard Pavlicek    

A King’s Ransom

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?

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

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
Table S 10 2
H 10 9 8
D A 9 2
C K 9 7 6 3
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?

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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.

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.

Solution
3 NT S A 5 4
H K J
D Q 10 8 7 6
C J 8 4
Trick
1. W
2. W
3. E
W 1 L 2
Lead
C 10!
S 3!
C 6!
2nd
4
4
Q
3rd
3
10
2
4th
5
8
8
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
S Q J 8
H A Q 3 2
D 5 4 3
C A Q 5

In the diagrammed position 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. South
leads
S A 5
H K J
D Q 10 8 7 6
C J
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
S Q J
H A Q 3 2
D 5 4 3
C A

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

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© 1995 Richard Pavlicek