Puzzle 7F28   Main


The Oblivious Shift Principle


  by Richard Pavlicek

Despite all hands being flat as a pancake, this deal contains some intriguing play and defense possibilities. Three notrump is the obvious contract with 26 HCP, but it’s far from obvious how to make it — or even if it can be made, with all finesses destined to lose.

3 NT South
None Vul
S 10 3 2
H A Q 10
D K 10 2
C J 10 9 8
West

Pass
Pass
North

3 NT
East

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

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and place your bets! Are you a player or a defender?

With best play all-around, can declarer make 3 NT? Or can the defense prevail?

Solution

Assume the heart lead is ducked to the jack, and East shifts safely to a club.

3 NT South S 10 3 2
H A Q 10
D K 10 2
C J 10 9 8
Trick
1 W
2 E
3 S
4 S
5 S
Lead
H 9
C 4
C K
C Q
D 5
2nd
10
A
6
7
7
3rd
J
5
9
10
K
4th
2
8
2
3
A
W-L
L1
W1
W2
W3
L2
S A 9 5
H 9 8 7 6
D 9 8 7
C 7 6 5
Table S J 7 6
H K J 5
D A J 4 3
C 4 3 2



Lead: H 9
S K Q 8 4
H 4 3 2
D Q 6 5
C A K Q

Declarer unblocks the top clubs and makes the key play of a low diamond to the king. East cannot benefit by ducking, so he wins the D A. What now, dear East?

A spade return gives the contract immediately, setting up South’s suit; and a heart into dummy’s A-Q leaves no defense when the C J is led. Suppose East tries to establish his long suit and exits with a diamond; no matter which, but say the D J.

NT win 6
Success
S 10 3 2
H A Q
D 10 2
C J
Trick
6 E
7 S
8 S
9 N
Lead
D J
S K
D 6
C J
2nd
Q
5
9
?
3rd
8
2
10
4th
2
6
3
W-L
W1
W2
W3
S A 9 5
H 8 7 6
D 9 8
C
Table S J 7 6
H K 5
D J 4 3
C



East leads
S K Q 8 4
H 4 3
D Q 6
C

South wins the D Q and leads the S K, ducked (best) by West, then a diamond to the 10. On the C J East must pitch his long diamond and West his long heart to avoid losing a trick outright, then H A and H Q endplay East in spades.

So 3 NT can be made, right?

Leading to oblivion

Wrong. East can defeat 3 NT with the “oblivious shift” to a low diamond at Trick 2. Declarer is gifted a trick immediately, but the defense can thwart any further gain. If declarer wins the D 10, unblocks clubs and leads a diamond, East ducks the D Q (or captures the D K and returns the suit) leaving declarer without recourse. A variety of other endings may ensue, but the defense can always prevail.

There could a useful tip here: When an endplay is inevitable, it is often better to surrender the trick sooner than later.

Puzzle 7F28   MainTop   The Oblivious Shift Principle

© 1995 Richard Pavlicek