Almost Bridge 7F74 Main

# Reindeer Games

by Richard Pavlicek

Rudolph (the reindeer of course) was right in the middle of a bridge hand when Santa pulled up in his sleigh. It was the big night, and Rudolph’s game was running longer than expected.

“Come on, Rudolph!” yelled Santa, “We’ve got no time to waste!”

“Okay, fatso,” retorted the famous reindeer, “as soon as I finish this rubber.”

Rudolph (South) and his partner Randolph were playing for high stakes against their reindeer friends, Raymond (West) and Ronald (East). Rudolph was declarer in 4 , which would end the rubber if successful. Having lost two tricks already, Rudolph needed to win three of the last four tricks in this ending:

 win 3 K 6 5 South — — Q 7 Q 9 8 8 7 — — K K — J 10 9 2 — Whose lead? —

One minute later the rubber was over, and Rudolph was soaring off into the night, guiding Santa’s way with his bright red nose.

Which reindeer was on lead in the ending? How did Rudolph succeed?

## Solution

Ronald (East) must have been on lead, as this is the only way Rudolph could win three of the last four tricks against best defense. But even then, the solution is not obvious.

 win 3 K 6 5 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th — 1. E K 10 7 5! — 2. S 2 8 K 8 Q 3. N Q ? 7 Q 9 8 Win 1 more trick 8 7 — — K K — J 10 9 2 — East leads —

Ronald does best to lead the K, which Rudolph must ruff in both hands. That’s right! He must ruff with the 10 and underruff in dummy. Next a heart is ruffed with dummy’s spade king, and the carefully preserved club is led to allow Rudolph to elope with his last trump: If East ruffs, South discards; if East discards, South ruffs.

Did you find this play? If not, you won’t be invited to play in any more reindeer games.

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