Main     Puzzle 7F40 by Richard Pavlicek    

Loser On a Loser

After a Michaels cue-bid by partner and a preemptive raise on your right, you become declarer in 4 S. On a normal day this would be an ultrasound contract. Indeed, your first reaction on seeing dummy is that you may have missed a cold slam. Yea, right. Now let’s see you make four.

Problem
4 S S A K Q 3 2
H
D 7 6
C 9 8 7 6 5 4
None Vul

West
1 H
All Pass


North
2 H


East
4 H


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

This could 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 whether you draw trumps or not, all those roads lead to nine tricks. Instead, focus on the diamond suit.

Make 4 S.

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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.

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 C A.

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

Next lead the C K (see ending) to force a heart pitch from West (a diamond pitch allows you to set up a diamond). Ruff the H J in dummy, and lead a diamond to the 10 and queen. Ruff West’s heart return in hand, then exit with the diamond jack to West’s king, smothering the nine. West must now lead from D 5-3 into your A-4 to give you the contract. South
leads
S 3
H
D 7 6
C 9 8 7 6
S
H Q 5 3
D K Q 5 3
C
Table S
H A 10
D 9 8
C Q J 10
S 7
H J
D A J 10 4
C K

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 H K with the ace to return a diamond (or give a club ruff) it actually simplifies your task, because the H J comes into play, and West is more easily endplayed.

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© 1996 Richard Pavlicek