Puzzles 7HA0 Main

One Trump Loser!

 by Richard Pavlicek

On each of these deals the contract is 6 S doubled, and West leads the D Q. Amazingly, each can be made, losing only one trump trick. Can you perform the magic?

South dealsS Q 9 2WestNorthEastSouth
None vulH A K 5 42 S
D A K 3 2Pass2 NTPass3 C1
C K 2Pass4 NT2Pass5 H3
S A J 8 7TableSPass6 SPassPass
H 8 7 6H Q J 10 9DblAll Pass
D Q J 10 9D 8 7 6
C 10 9C Q J 8 7 6 51. feature
S K 10 6 5 4 32. Roman key-card Blackwood
H 3 23. 2 key cards (no S Q)
Lead: D QD 5 4
6 S× SouthC A 4 3

West appears to have two natural trump tricks, but a little magic might cure that.


Win the D A-K and ruff a diamond; win the H A-K and ruff a heart; win the C A-K and ruff the last diamond. This reduces West to all trumps with South on lead.

Lead a club; West ruffs with the S 7 and North overruffs with the nine. Finally, lead the last heart and ruff with the S K. If West overruffs with the ace, he will be endplayed in trumps; if he underruffs, he is left with S A-J in front of the queen.

Puzzles 7HA0 MainTop One Trump Loser!

For the next slam you may need some tranquilizer darts:

South dealsS K 10 2WestNorthEastSouth
N-S vulH 3 21 H
D A K 3 22 NTDbl3 C3 S?
C A K 3 2Pass4 NTPass5 H
STableS Q J 8 6 4 3Pass6 SDblAll Pass
H 9 8 7H Q J 10
D Q J 10 9 8D 7 6
C Q J 10 9 8C 7 6
S A 9 7 5
H A K 6 5 4
Lead: D QD 5 4
6 S× SouthC 5 4

Seeing East’s trumps might make you ill, but they can be neutralized. Do you see how?


Cash all your side winners and ruff a heart with the S 2, leaving with East with all trumps. Lead a minor suit and overruff as cheaply as possible. Say, East ruffs with the jack and you win the ace. Ruff a heart with the S K forcing East to underruff. Lead a minor suit to overruff again (if East ruffs with the queen, discard your last heart). Finally, ruff your last heart with the S 10 and watch East squirm.

Puzzles 7HA0 MainTop One Trump Loser!

For the final vanishing act you meet an escapee from the asylum:

East dealsS K 2WestNorthEastSouth
Both vulH A K 22 H12 S
D A K 3 2Pass3 HPass3 S
C 8 7 6 5Pass6 SDbl2Pass
S J 8 7 6TableS APassPass
H J 10 9H 8 7 6 5 4 3
D Q J 10D 9 8 71. lunatic on the loose
C J 10 9C 4 3 22. don’t lead a heart
S Q 10 9 5 4 3
Lead: D QD 6 5 4
6 S× SouthC A K Q

It looks impossible to stop West from making his S J, but that’s an illusion. Harry Houdini would find a way.


Win the D A and cash the H A-K (ignore the H Q) to ditch a diamond; ruff a heart; win the D K; ruff a diamond and cash three clubs. This leaves West with all trumps.

Duck a spade to East’s blank ace. On the forced heart return play the S 9 and West’s jack is smothered. If he overruffs, you will overruff with the king. If he underruffs, you will discard from dummy.

Keep practicing your magic. With a little more experience you will know enough to redouble!

Puzzles 7HA0 MainTop One Trump Loser!

© 1998 Richard Pavlicek