Main     Puzzle 7F34 by Richard Pavlicek    

Trump Handling

Routine bidding leads to an ordinary contract that’s as sound as a rock, but the fact that it’s here means the rock may crumble. A devilish opening lead, combined with an unfriendly club lie, will require anything but ordinary technique to bring it home. Are you up to the task?

Problem
4 H S Q 9 3 2
H A J 6
D 7 6 5 4
C 10 4
E-W Vul

West

Pass
All Pass


North

2 H


East

Pass


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

West finds the best lead, and the defense will be flawless throughout.

Normally you would just ruff two clubs in dummy, but that would fail miserably with the stiff club in East. On a brighter note, the heart layout looks friendly.

Make 4 H.

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Solution

Nine tricks can be won on straight power, but the 10th is elusive. Suppose you win the H A, cash one top club and duck a club to West, hoping to ruff a club in dummy. No way; East will ruff his partner’s trick and clear trumps to set you.

Did you notice the spade layout? One ruff will set up North’s queen, and it may be possible to endplay East to lead into dummy’s S Q-9. An interesting idea, but it comes up empty with accurate defense — unless you butcher the trump suit. An absolute beginner could play trumps for one loser, but to make 4 H you must lose three trump tricks.

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

First you must duck the H Q, unblocking the H 7. East cannot gain by overtaking, so whatever the shift, win the S A, D A and C A. Next lead a middle heart, ducked to East, and win the trump return, again unblocking in hand. From the ending at right, ruff a spade high, cash the D K and lose your H 2 to East, who has nothing left but spades. The forced return gives dummy two tricks, and the second will squeeze West in the minors. Voila! South
leads
S Q 9 3
H
D 7 6 5
C 10
S K
H
D Q 9 3
C Q 9 8
Table S 10 8 7 6 5
H 5
D J
C
S
H 10 2
D K 8
C K 3 2

Remind me to include this deal in my next lesson on “Handling the Trump Suit.”

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© 1996 Richard Pavlicek