Main   Quiz 7J74 by Richard Pavlicek  

Fifteen Ruff-Cut Diamonds

Here’s your chance, guys! Challenge your wife or sweetheart, and find out once and for all if diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Can you make 5 D three times? The secret is in the ruff!

1. 5 D South

S 8 2
H 6
D Q 6 5 4 3
C 9 8 5 4 3
Lead: D JTable(East follows)
S A Q 6 5
H A 9 7
D A K 8 7 2
C 2


West found a great lead, and all you can be sure of are 10 tricks (five diamonds, two aces and three ruffs). If the spade finesse loses, you’ll be sunk by another trump lead. The proper play is to win the D K and lead your singleton club. If a second trump is led, win in dummy and ruff a club; cash the H A; ruff a heart; ruff a club, and ruff a heart. If clubs split 4-3 (all followed) one more ruff establishes the fifth club as your 11th trick. Otherwise, you must rely on the spade finesse.

West held:

S K-10-9-3 H J-10-5-4 D J-10 C A-J-10 2. 5 D South

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


What pretty diamonds! With 10 solid tricks, it is tempting to lead a heart toward dummy. If West has H A-Q (or one honor and you guess right), your problems are over; but otherwise you will need a 3-3 spade break, which is odds-against. A much better play is to cash both top spades immediately (low to the ace then low to the king). Barring a singleton spade, you can claim! Just give the opponents a spade, then you can ruff your fourth spade with the D K.

West held:

S Q-10-9-5 H 9-8-7-3 D 2 C K-Q-10-9 3. 5 D South

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


This delicate contract needs a 3-2 trump split and may need 3-3 clubs as well. Ruffing a club in dummy will improve your chances, as the defender who ruffs or overruffs may do so with his natural trump trick. Alas, if you start clubs immediately, you will lose two club ruffs. (Whoever ruffs can put his partner in with a spade for another club lead.) The solution is to lead your spade at trick two — a scissors coup to cut the enemy communication. Then your club ruff will succeed.

West held:

S A-10-8-7 H K-Q-8 D Q-9 C J-9-7-6 TopMain

© 2013 Richard Pavlicek