Puzzle 7F42   Main


Only Game In Town


  by Richard Pavlicek

After failing in his 5 D contract, South berated his partner, “You are a cue-biddin’ fool. Why didn’t you just bid 3 NT? Or at least mention your five-card spade suit so I could pass and get a plus score.”

“My hand was too strong,” North retaliated. “There was nothing wrong with the final contract except for the horrendous trump break. On a good day, even 6 D would roll on these cards.”

“Yeah, sure; like I’m thinking about a slam here. All I wanted was to get to a makable contract. Is that too much to ask?”

“If you were clairvoyant you would have passed 3 C doubled, which we could set four tricks. Once you bid we were doomed. It looks like there is no game to be made our way.”

5 D South
N-S Vul
S A K 6 5 4
H A K
D A 8 6
C A 8 6
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

Dbl
4 C
5 C
EAST
3 C
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
Pass
3 D
4 H
5 D
S Q J 10 7
H 4 3 2
D Q J 10 9 7
C 10
TableS 9 8 3
H J 10 9 8
D
C K Q J 9 4 2
Lead: D 9 S 2
H Q 7 6 5
D K 5 4 3 2
C 7 5 3

Wrong! What is the only makable game contract for North-South?

Solution

The most likely game appears to be 3 NT in that there are eight top tricks. After the obvious club lead, declarer’s best hope is to establish the long spade without letting East gain the lead. In order to do this it is necessary to lead the first spade from South, which means using the D K entry. Alas, West can then knock out the D A and establish his diamonds first. Any squeeze attempt will also fail with the cramped communication. In short, 3 NT cannot be made.

What about 4 S? With the 4-3 break there are nine easy tricks after clearing trumps. Alas, there is no 10th in sight. Scratch this one.

Aha! Did I hear someone mention 4 H? That’s certainly a clever answer to a devious bridge puzzle. Unfortunately, not this puzzle.

The correct answer was staring you in the face. Despite the 5-0 break, 5 D is makable after any lead. With the actual D 9 lead, the key play is to win the ace. The basic plan is to strip all of West’s side-suit cards ending in the South hand (exact order is not crucial).

5 D South S A K 6 5 4
H A K
D A 8 6
C A 8 6
Trick
1 W
2 N
3 N
4 N
5 N
6 N
7 S
8 S
9 N
Lead
D 9
H A
H K
S A
S K
S 4
H Q
C 5
S 5
2nd
A!
8
9
3
8
9
4
10
C 9
3rd
C 2
5
6
2
C 3
D 3
C 6
A
D 4
4th
2
2
3
7
10
J
10
4
Q
W-L
W1
W2
W3
W4
W5
W6
W7
W8
W9
S Q J 10 7
H 4 3 2
D Q J 10 9 7
C 10
Table S 9 8 3
H J 10 9 8
D
C K Q J 9 4 2



Lead: D 9
S 2
H Q 7 6 5
D K 5 4 3 2
C 7 5 3

Win the H A-K, S A-K (pitch a club), ruff a spade, cash the H Q (pitch a club), cross to the C A, and ruff another spade to reach:

D win 2
Success
S 6
H
D 8 6
C 8
Trick
10 S
11 W
12 S
Lead
H 7
D Q
C 7
2nd
D 10
6
?
3rd
C 8
C J
4th
J
K
W-L
L1
W1
S
H
D Q J 10 7
C
Table S
H J
D
C K Q J



South leads
S
H 7
D K 5
C 7

When South leads the H 7, West must ruff with an honor, and a club is thrown from dummy. West must return a diamond honor to the king, then the C 7 promotes the D 8 en passant. West is helpless to prevent it.

Remember this deal the next time you shun bidding five of a minor. There is more to bridge than we sometimes realize.

Historical notes

I composed this puzzle circa 1971 for the ACBL Bridge Bulletin, at which time the deal was rotated 180 degrees so the North hand was declarer (to prevent a trump lead). The brilliant Oswald Jacoby pointed out that 5 D was makable with a trump lead as well — and I have no doubt he would have succeeded at the table.

Twelve years later he proved it! Despite failing health (he passed the next year) Oswald Jacoby, “Jake” as we called him, was the star of our Reisinger team at the 1983 Fall Nationals. Partnered with Edgar Kaplan, Jake engineered some spectacular results in bidding and play. My partner (Bill Root) and I were gratefully impressed, as we wouldn’t have won without him.

Puzzle 7F42   MainTop   Only Game In Town

© 1996 Richard Pavlicek