Main   Quiz 7J58 by Richard Pavlicek  

If It Walks Like a Duck…

…And it quacks like a duck, you got a duck — at least you do on each of these problems. The catch is deciding which suit and when. How do you play each contract?

1. 3 NT South

S A Q 6 5 4
H 7 5
D 8 5 4
C A 7 2
Lead: H 4TableEast plays H J
S 3 2
H A K 6 2
D A K 2
C K 5 4 3


It might appear that you should duck the first trick, but that would be an error. The opponents might shift to a club (and lead another club later) to knock out dummy’s C A entry before you can establish the spade suit. Win the H K and duck a spade. The first-round duck is crucial to establish the long spade in the likely event they break 4-2. Whatever the return, win in hand and finesse the S Q (or win the ace if the king pops up) and continue spades.

West held:

S K-8 H Q-10-8-4 D J-9-7 C Q-10-8-6 2. 4 H South

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


West’s lead is surely a singleton (note that you would have shown a spade suit in the auction), so the danger is obvious: If you cash the top spades, West will ruff; then the opponents will lead two rounds of trumps, leaving you a trick short. It doesn’t help to draw trumps. After winning the S A, you should duck a spade. Then you can ruff your low spades (with the H Q-10 if necessary) and eventually draw trumps to win the S K, or crossruff, depending on the defense.

West held:

S 9 H A-7-5 D K-J-10-8 C J-9-7-6-5 3. 4 S South

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


Your 10th trick might come from (1) a heart ruff or (2) establishing the diamond suit. The opponents can prevent (1) by leading trumps, or (2) by attacking dummy’s H A entry — but with proper technique, they can’t stop both. Win the C A, cash the D A-K, and ruff a diamond (assume they break 4-2). Next duck a heart. If they drive out the H A, you can ruff your heart; if they clear trumps, you can establish the long diamond with the H A entry. Neat.

West held:

S 5-4 H K-8-7-5 D Q-10-9-4 C Q-J-10 TopMain

© 2013 Richard Pavlicek