Main     Puzzle 7F29 by Richard Pavlicek    

A Ditch in Time

North-South have shown little respect for point count in the bidding, and their brash contract is likely to make. Your job as East-West is to teach them a lesson. How can 3 NT be defeated against best play by declarer?

Problem
3 NT S 3 2
H K 10 9 8 7
D K 8 7 6
C K J
None Vul

West

1 S
Pass


North

2 H
3 NT


East

Pass
All Pass


South
1 D
2 NT
S Q 9 8 7 6 5
H A Q 6 5
D A 10
C 10
Table S 10
H J 2
D J 9 2
C A 8 7 6 5 4 3
S A K J 4
H 4 3
D Q 5 4 3
C Q 9 2

Clearly, a spade lead is disastrous — declarer gets three spades, three diamonds (by first leading low through West), two clubs and a heart with routine play. And after a passive lead, West must be careful not to get endplayed.

Take it from there.

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Solution

The only successful lead is the C 10, but even then declarer can succeed with routine defense. If East ducks the first club, South wins a spade and leads a diamond, which West wins and exits with a diamond. North wins the D K; South the D Q; then a heart to the king and another heart put the defenders at bay. If East wins and clears clubs, West will soon be squeezed out of one top heart and endplayed with the other.

The only way to relieve this pressure on West is for East to establish his club suit, and this requires some fancy footwork. East must win the first club and return another, on which West must ditch the D A. Assume declarer wins in dummy and leads a low diamond; East must play the jack (else South will duck to West). South wins the D Q; North the D K; then a third diamond goes to East.

Solution
3 NT S 3 2
H K 10 9 8 7
D K 8 7 6
C K J
Trick
1. W
2. E
3. N
4. S
5. N
W 3 L 2
Lead
C 10!
C 3
D 6
D 3
D 7
2nd
K
9
J!
S 5
9
3rd
A
D A!
Q
K
4
4th
2
J
10
2
S 6
S Q 9 8 7 6 5
H A Q 6 5
D A 10
C 10
Table S 10
H J 2
D J 9 2
C A 8 7 6 5 4 3
S A K J 4
H 4 3
D Q 5 4 3
C Q 9 2

From the ending East must return a club. West cannot part with a spade, else South will lead the S J; nor one of his two low hearts, else South will lead a heart and duck if West plays the H Q, eventually endplaying West. Therefore, West ditches the H Q. When South next leads his last diamond, West completes the spectacle by ditching the H A to leave declarer helpless — and no doubt speechless. East
leads
S 3 2
H K 10 9 8 7
D 8
C
S Q 9 8 7
H A Q 6 5
D
C
Table S 10
H J 2
D
C 8 7 6 5 4
S A K J 4
H 4 3
D 5
C Q

Well, there you have it; a ditch in time stops nine. Isn’t that how you would have defended at the table?

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© 1995 Richard Pavlicek