Puzzle 7F40   Main

Loser On a Loser

by Richard Pavlicek

After a Michaels cue-bid by partner and a preemptive raise on your right, you become declarer in 4 . Usually this would be an ultrasound contract. Indeed, your first reaction on seeing dummy is that you may have missed a slam. Yeah, right. Let’s see you make four.

 4 SouthNone Vul A K Q 3 2 — 7 6 9 8 7 6 5 4 WEST1 Pass North2 Pass East4 Pass South4 J 10 9 K Q 5 3 2 K Q 5 3 2 — 8 A 10 9 8 7 9 8 Q J 10 3 2 Lead: K 7 6 5 4 J 6 4 A J 10 4 A K

This can be a frustrating puzzle if you start off on the wrong track, so I’ll offer a hint. Forget about establishing the club suit, as those roads all fall short, whether you draw trumps or not. Instead, focus on the diamond suit.

Solution

Drawing trumps gives you nine easy tricks. The 10th must come from diamonds, which cannot be done on power, so you should plan to endplay West. This is difficult because you must not only eliminate West’s exit cards, but also retain enough trump control to set up a long diamond if he pitches two diamonds. Delicate timing is required.

 4 South A K Q 3 2 — 7 6 9 8 7 6 5 4 Trick1 W2 W3 N4 N5 N6 N Lead K 2 A K Q 5 2nd 4! 28 9 23 3rd78456A 4th46910J 2 W-LL1W1W2W3W4W5 J 10 9 K Q 5 3 2 K Q 5 3 2 — 8 A 10 9 8 7 9 8 Q J 10 3 2 Lead: K 7 6 5 4 J 6 4 A J 10 4 A K

Strangely, the only winning line begins with a club discard on the opening lead. (You did notice my title, didn’t you?) Assuming a heart is continued, ruff in dummy, draw all the enemy trumps, and cross to your hand with the A to reach this ending:

 win 5Success 3 — 7 6 9 8 7 6 Trick7 S8 S9 N10 W11 S Lead K J 6 5 10! 2nd 3Q8 7K 3rd6 3JA7 4th1010Q 79 W-LW1W2L1W3L2 — Q 5 3 K Q 5 3 — — A 10 9 8 Q J 10 South leads 7 J A J 10 4 K West is endplayed

Next lead the K to force a heart pitch from West (a diamond pitch allows you to set up a diamond). Ruff the J in dummy, and lead a diamond to the jack and queen. Ruff West’s heart return in hand, then exit with the 10 to West’s king, smothering the nine. West must now lead from 5-3 into your A-4 to give you the contract.

Variations: If West leads a trump at trick two, the play is essentially the same, except you ruff a heart yourself between cashing the top clubs. If East overtakes the K with the ace to return a diamond (or deliver a club ruff) it actually simplifies your task, because the J comes into play, and West is more easily endplayed.

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