Main   Quiz 7J78 by Richard Pavlicek  

Heartbreak Hotel

The heart suit is the key to make each of these 4 H contracts. Find out if your heart is in the right place, or if you just stumbled onto another Elvis sighting.

1. 4 H South

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


Fortunately, West didn’t find a trump lead, which leaves you well placed for a crossruff. Did you ruff a spade at trick two? Oops, you will end up in the wrong hand and be able to win only seven trump tricks plus two aces. Try it. The proper play is to cross to the D A and ruff a diamond first; then you can ruff four diamonds in hand to produce eight trump tricks, barring an overruff in spades. (If East is short in spades, you will need West to have the H 9.)

West held:

S Q-J-10-7 H 9-6-4-2 D J-3 C A-J-8 2. 4 H South

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


Three notrump would have been a better contract, but you seem to have the same 10 tricks in hearts. Or do you? All is fine if hearts break 4-2 or 3-3, but a bad break could be your downfall. You will fail if you draw even one round of trumps. Instead, you should try to ruff two diamonds with the H K-Q. Proper technique is to win the C A; S A; D Q; D A; diamond ruff (high); H J; diamond ruff. This guarantees 10 tricks barring an unlikely enemy ruff (singleton diamond).

West held:

S Q-10-2 H 5 D 10-8-6-5-3 C K-Q-J-9 3. 4 H South

S 8
H K 9 7
D K 6 4 2
C A J 10 9 6
Lead: D Q-JTable
S A K Q 7 2
H Q J 10 8 6
D 9
C 4 2


You play low twice from dummy (East surely has the ace) and ruff the second trick. Two spade ruffs (or establishing a long spade after one ruff) is your best chance; but how many top spades do you cash? Proper play is to win the C A next (not crucial) followed by two top spades, pitching a club from dummy. Ruff a spade (East pitches), ruff a diamond, then ruff your last low spade with the king. If East overruffs and returns a trump, your hand is good; else crossruff.

West held:

S J-9-6-5-4 H 3 D Q-J-3 C K-8-7-5 TopMain

© 2013 Richard Pavlicek