Main     Puzzles 8G01 by Richard Pavlicek    

The “Great 88” Conspiracy

When I was studying bridge in the late ‘60s, I came across the book Double Dummy Bridge by George S. Coffin. This was a compilation of 300 double-dummy problems, some by the author, but most by other composers who were given due credit. The book captivated my fancy and was a major influence toward a pastime I enjoy to this day, creating bridge puzzles. The book is no longer in print but has been republished with three other Coffin books under the title Bridge Play Four Classics.

The first 88 problems in Double Dummy Bridge, all five-card endings, were an attempt to illustrate all the possible endplay techniques. Dubbed the “Great 88,” these mini-problems were divided into five “tribes” according to the kind of endplay, though the categorization was fuzzy, and Coffin evidently gave up with his title of Tribe 5. Nonetheless, the work is a significant contribution to card-play theory and its classical status is deserved. Some curious facts:

One ending does not work. That is, the stated goal cannot be achieved against best defense.
Two endings could never occur in bridge without a revoke.
Two endings are essentially identical with a slight change in card ranks.

Being a puzzler at heart, I won’t reveal the culprits; but I have presented the “Great 88” here for your examination. Or, perhaps I should say, the “Great 84” plus four impostors. These are exactly as in the book, however, I have corrected a few obvious typos in duplicated spot cards. Each ending is named to describe the technique (terminology is Coffin’s which may be archaic today) and you are told which suit is trumps (or notrump), the number of tricks North-South must win, and the player on lead.

So, if you have nothing better to do, you might want to play bridge detective. Can you find the culprits described above? I won’t reveal the answers here, but I’ll give you a hint: Start from the end and work backwards to reach them more quickly. If you think you have found them or gave up trying, you can e-mail me for the answers.

[Addendum, March 2001. Thanks to Jonathan Weinstein for discovering the second ending that is illegal (unreachable without a revoke). Originally, I had noticed only one.]

[Addendum, August 2011. Thanks to Sebastien Louveaux (Belgium) for discovering the two endings that are essentially identical, a fact I was unaware of until now.]

Tribe 1: Eliminations, Endplays of Position

1. Avoidance

NT win 3
S A 9 8 7
H
D A
C
S K 2
H A Q 3
D
C
TableS Q 5
H 9 8 7
D
C
South leadsS 6 4
H K 2
D 2
C

2. The Pitt coup

S win 5
S A 2
H 7 5 3
D
C
S 3
H Q 9 8
D A
C
TableS Q 9
H 6 4
D Q
C
South leadsS K J
H
D 7 5 3
C

3. Gambit and jettison

S win 4
S A
H 8 7 3
D A
C
S 8
H Q
D Q 9 8
C
TableS 6
H 9
D K
C K J
South leadsS
H A 6
D
C Q 4 3

4. Forced finesse

NT win 4
S 8 4 2
H 3 2
D
C
S J 9
H 7 5
D 2
C
TableS A 7 6
H K 8
D
C
South leadsS K Q 3
H A Q
D
C

5. Strip setup finesse

S win 4
S 7
H
D Q 6 3
C A
S 5
H
D
C K 9 8 4
TableS 9
H
D J 10 8
C 7
South leadsS
H
D K 9 4
C 6 5

6. Double strip finesse

NT win 4
S
H 8 6
D
C A 9 6
S
H 9
D 8
C 8 7 4
TableS 5
H A 5 3
D
C 5
South leadsS A
H 7 4 2
D
C 2

7. Crossruff strip

S win 3
S 9 7
H
D 7 2
C 2
S J
H J
D K J
C J
TableS
H Q 3
D Q
C K Q
South leadsS 8 6
H
D A 8
C 8

8. Jettison entry strip

S win 4
S 2
H 3 2
D
C A 2
S
H K Q
D K Q
C 8
TableS
H
D J 9
C K J 6
South leadsS
H
D A 4 3
C Q 3

9. Jettison two-entry strip

S win 4
S
H A 7
D
C Q J 5
S 8
H K 3
D
C K 9
TableS
H 6 5
D A K 9
C
South leadsS J
H J 9
D Q J
C

10. Double-entry strip

NT win 4
S 7 4 3
H A
D A
C
S A 6 5
H K
D K
C
TableS Q
H Q
D Q
C Q J
South leadsS K J 2
H
D
C 3 2

11. Fork strip

NT win 4
S 5 2
H 5
D 5
C 5
S K 6 3
H K
D A
C
TableS 9 8
H 9
D 9
C 9
South leadsS A Q
H A
D 3
C A

12. Total fork strip

H win 3
S 10 4 2
H
D A
C 4
S A 9 6
H
D 3
C 5
TableS Q J 7
H
D J
C Q
South leadsS K 8 5
H 8
D 6
C

13. Progressive fork strip

NT win 4
S Q 3
H
D
C K Q J
S 8 6 5 4
H A
D
C
TableS K 10 2
H
D
C 6 4
South leadsS A J 9 7
H J
D
C

14. Transfer fork strip

S win 4
S 6
H 4
D
C A J 5
S
H Q
D K 4
C 9 2
TableS
H
D 6 5
C Q 8 4
South leadsS
H
D 7 2
C K 6 3

15. Jettison double fork strip

S win 3
S
H
D J
C 10 8 6 2
S 9
H 9 5 3
D 8
C
TableS 7
H 8
D
C A 9 7
South leadsS J
H 6 4 2
D 5
C

16. Repeat-jettison fork strip

S win 4
S
H A
D A
C K J 7
S J
H 3
D 7 6 4
C
TableS 5
H
D Q 9
C A Q
South leadsS Q
H 2
D K J 8
C

17. Two-fork double strip

NT win 4
S
H 8
D J 7
C A 9
S
H 6 5
D Q
C Q 6
TableS
H Q 7
D A 8
C 8
South leadsS A
H A 9 3
D 6
C

18. Double blocked fork strip

S win 3
S
H Q 9
D J 9 5
C
S 4
H J
D K 7 3
C
TableS
H K 10 7 3
D Q
C
South leadsS 9
H 8
D A 6 4
C

19. Crossruff or finesse strip

S win 4
S 10
H 5
D
C A 10 5
S
H K Q
D
C K Q 9
TableS
H J 10
D K Q
C J
South leadsS 5
H A
D
C 4 3 2

20. Crossruff entry strip

S win 4
S 3
H 4
D A
C 3 2
S
H 7 5
D 9 8
C A
TableS
H K
D K
C K Q J
South leadsS 5 4
H A
D
C 7 5

21. Crossruff fork strip

S win 4
S A
H A Q
D Q
C A
S
H J 9
D J
C J 9
TableS
H K 5
D K
C K Q
South leadsS 3
H 3 2
D 3
C 3

22. Crossruff split-fork strip

S win 4
S 3
H Q
D
C K 10 3
S
H K
D A
C J 8 6
TableS
H A 9
D
C Q 7 5
South leadsS 4
H 6
D
C A 9 4

23. Entry or fork strip

NT win 4
S 3
H 7 2
D Q 2
C
S
H Q 9 8
D K 9
C
TableS 2
H J 5 4
D J
C
South leadsS
H A K 3
D A 7
C

24. Jettison-entry fork strip

NT win 3
S K 9 8 4
H
D K
C
S
H 9 8
D A 6 5
C
TableS A J
H
D
C 8 7 6
South leadsS
H Q 6 5
D 7 2
C

25. Blocked fork strip or entry strip

NT win 4
S K J 3
H
D K
C 8
S
H 9
D 9
C Q 7 2
TableS Q 7
H
D Q J
C 9
South leadsS
H J
D 8 4
C J 6

26. Crossruff entry fork strip

S win 4
S 3
H 3 2
D
C 5 3
S
H 6 4
D 6
C 6 4
TableS
H
D 9 8 7 5 4
C
South leadsS 7 5
H 7 5
D
C 2

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Tribe 2: Coups, Endplays of Time

27. En passant

S win 4
S A 5 4
H 2
D
C 2
S 9 8
H 9
D 9
C 9
TableS 7
H
D A 7
C 8 7
South leadsS
H 3
D 3 2
C A 3

28. Grand coup

S win 5
S
H 4 2
D A K
C A
S J 9
H
D J 9
C J
TableS K 4
H
D 4 3
C 4
South leadsS A Q 2
H
D 2
C 2

29. Grand coup fork strip

S win 4
S 8 7 6
H A
D
C 9
S K Q 9
H 9
D 9
C
TableS 3
H K
D K
C K Q
South leadsS A J 10 2
H
D A
C

30. Overruff grand coup

S win 4
S Q 9 7 2
H
D
C Q
S J 10 8
H 3 2
D
C
TableS
H
D K 6
C K 6 2
South leadsS 5 4
H 4
D 5
C 4

31. Repeating grand coup

S win 5
S A K
H
D
C Q 10 8
S 4 3 2
H 8
D 8
C
TableS J 9 7 6 5
H
D
C
South leadsS Q 10 8
H A
D A
C

32. Undercut

S win 4
S
H 4
D A 6 5
C A
S
H A
D Q J 9 8
C
TableS K Q 10
H
D K
C 4
South leadsS A J 2
H 6
D 4
C

33. Uppercut

S win 2
S Q 7
H 8
D J
C A
S 9 8 3
H A
D 9
C
TableS A 6 5
H
D 2
C 8
South leadsS 4 2
H 4 2
D 4
C

34. Smother play

S win 4
S A 4 2
H 2
D
C 2
S K 6 5 3
H 3
D
C
TableS 10 9
H 10 9
D 10
C
South leadsS Q J 8 7
H 7
D
C

35. Double smother

S win 5
S A 10 3
H
D A K
C
S Q 8 5
H 5
D 5
C
TableS J 6
H 6
D 6
C 6
South leadsS K 9 2
H A
D
C 4

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Tribe 3: Squeezes, Endplays of Mass

36. Double squeeze

NT win 5
S A 2
H 2
D
C K Q
S Q 9
H A
D
C J 9
TableS K J
H
D A
C 8 6
South leadsS 3
H
D 2
C A 7 2

37. Double squeeze

S win 4
S 9 4
H
D 2
C K 3
S J
H
D 8
C 9 7 2
TableS A 5
H Q
D
C J 8
South leadsS Q 6 3
H 2
D
C 6

38. Double automatic squeeze

NT win 5
S A Q 3
H
D
C K 4
S K 9 6
H
D A
C 9
TableS J 8 7
H A
D
C 7
South leadsS 2
H 2
D 2
C A 2

39. Split squeeze

NT win 5
S K 3
H
D 7 4
C A
S Q
H
D
C J 8 7 6
TableS J
H
D Q J
C K 9
South leadsS A 2
H
D A
C Q 2

40. Overtake squeeze

NT win 4
S A 9 6 4
H
D
C K
S 3
H A 2
D A
C A
TableS 10 8 7 5 2
H
D
C
South leadsS K Q J
H K
D K
C

41. Progressive squeeze

NT win 5
S 3
H A 3
D Q
C 4
S K 9
H K 9
D 9
C
TableS Q 8 2
H
D J
C A
South leadsS A 7
H 7
D K 8
C

42. Transfer repeat squeeze

NT win 5
S A 7
H 4
D 6
C 7
S K 6 5 4
H
D Q
C
TableS J 9
H
D 9 8
C Q
South leadsS Q 8
H
D A 5 4
C

43. Three-two squeeze

NT win 5
S
H A 4
D 4
C 4 2
S
H K 6
D K
C J 9
TableS
H
D A 3
C 8 6 3
South leadsS 7
H 7
D
C A Q 7

44. Finesse jettison squeeze

NT win 4
S K 8
H
D 9 5 3
C
S Q 7 6 4
H
D K
C
TableS
H J
D J 10 7
C 9
South leadsS
H 9
D Q 8
C 6 3

45. Progressive jettison squeeze

NT win 4
S A 4
H 9
D A
C 5
S Q J
H
D K J
C Q
TableS
H 7 3
D 7 6 4
C
South leadsS 9 6
H K 4
D 8
C

46. Progressive jettison squeeze or squeeze

NT win 5
S
H A 3
D A 9
C Q
S
H Q 4
D K 4
C K
TableS
H 7 5
D 8 7 6
C
South leadsS 9
H 8 6
D Q J
C

47. Trump squeeze

S win 5
S K J 8 4
H
D
C K
S 10 9
H A
D A
C A
TableS Q 6 5
H
D
C 3 2
South leadsS A 7 3
H K
D K
C

48. Squeeze or forced finesse

NT win 4
S K Q
H K Q
D J
C
S A 8 7 6 5
H
D
C
TableS 9
H A
D K 9 3
C
South leadsS 2
H 3
D A Q 7
C

49. Finesse squeeze

S win 5
S 8 2
H
D A 9
C 2
S
H 7 3
D K J
C 9
TableS
H 6 2
D 8
C 7 4
South leadsS
H 5 4
D Q
C A 6

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Tribe 4: Compound and Hybrid Endings

50. One-way finesse or fork strip

NT win 3
S K J
H
D
C A 6 2
S
H
D Q 5
C Q J 5
TableS A Q 9
H
D J 7
C
South leadsS 8 5 3
H
D K 4
C

51. Forced jettison strip squeeze

S win 3
S
H A
D A J 6 4
C
S J
H J 10 8 6
D
C
TableS 8
H
D Q 9 8
C K
South leadsS 9
H Q 9 7
D
C 7

52. Crossruff strip triple squeeze

S win 3
S 6
H 7 6
D
C 7 6
S
H
D K J 8 7 6
C
TableS 9
H Q J
D
C Q J
North leadsS 7
H K 8
D Q
C 8

53. Forced triple squeeze (with fork strip)

NT win 4
S 9
H Q 8
D
C Q 7
S 10 8
H
D 10
C 10 8
TableS
H J 7
D
C J 6 4
South leadsS A 6
H 9
D 9
C 9

54. Squeeze strip or suitout

S win 4
S
H 7 6
D A 2
C 2
S
H K 9 4
D 9 5
C
TableS
H J 8
D K Q
C K
South leadsS 7
H A Q 5
D 7
C

55. Triple squeeze forced finesse

NT win 4
S Q 6
H 3
D 8
C 2
S 10 4
H 10
D
C 10 4
TableS K
H 8 2
D A
C 8
South leadsS
H A 4
D K
C A K

56. Jettison squeeze finesse

NT win 4
S A
H K 2
D K 2
C
S K
H A
D A
C 8 7
TableS 4 2
H
D
C Q J 9
South leadsS 5 3
H
D
C A K 3

57. Squeeze or squeeze strip

S win 4
S
H A Q 9
D K Q
C
S 4
H
D
C Q 6 5 4
TableS 7
H K J
D A J
C
South leadsS K
H 2
D 2
C J 10

58. Triple squeeze scoop strip

NT win 4
S K 8 7 4
H
D
C 2
S Q J
H Q
D Q
C Q
TableS A 6 5
H
D
C 9 8
South leadsS 2
H 9
D 9
C A K

59. Triple squeeze entry strip

NT win 4
S A 6 5 4
H K
D
C
S 3 2
H A
D A
C A
TableS 10 9 8 7
H
D
C K
South leadsS K Q J
H
D K
C 2

60. Jettison triple squeeze entry strip

NT win 4
S 4 3
H 2
D J
C A
S 9 5
H 9
D
C K 9
TableS K
H
D 9 8
C 5 4
South leadsS A
H
D 4 3 2
C 6

61. Fork squeeze entry strip

NT win 4
S
H A 5 2
D
C A 9
S
H Q 8 6
D
C 6 4
TableS
H J
D K 9
C K 8
South leadsS
H K 7 3
D Q 7
C

62. Squeeze finesse

NT win 5
S K 2
H 9
D 9
C K
S Q 3
H A
D A
C Q
TableS J 8 6 4
H
D
C J
South leadsS A 9 5
H
D
C A 2

63. Finesse threat 3-2 squeeze

S win 5
S 2
H
D K 5
C A 7
S
H 9
D Q 8
C J 9
TableS
H J 8
D J 9 7
C
South leadsS
H 2
D A 10 4 3
C

64. Hexagon squeeze finesse

NT win 5
S 2
H A 9
D 2
C 2
S A
H K 4
D K
C Q
TableS K
H Q
D Q 4
C J
South leadsS
H 2
D A 9
C A K

65. One-way squeeze scoop finesse

NT win 5
S K J 2
H K
D
C 2
S 9 8 7
H A
D
C 3
TableS Q 5 4
H 3
D
C 4
South leadsS A 6 3
H
D
C A K

66. Automatic squeeze scoop finesse

NT win 5
S
H
D 10 5
C A 5 2
S
H
D 9 3
C 10 8 6
TableS 9 8
H
D Q 7 6
C
South leadsS
H 9
D K 8
C K 9

67. Squeeze ruffout

S win 5
S A 5
H
D K 9 8
C
S
H K Q
D Q J 10
C
TableS 7
H
D
C Q J 8 7
South leadsS 9 3
H 10 9 5
D
C

68. Squeeze overruff

C win 5
S Q 5
H 5
D
C K Q
S
H J 6 4
D J
C 5
TableS K
H K 10
D 8 7
C
South leadsS
H A 8 7
D 10
C 9

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Tribe 5: Five-Card Problems

69. Repeat-squeeze entry strip

NT win 2
S 2
H K 4
D K
C K
S 8
H A 2
D Q
C Q
TableS A K 9 7
H 9
D
C
South leadsS Q J 6 4
H 8
D
C

70. Forced unblock triple-squeeze scoop

NT win 2
S Q J 8
H 7
D 7
C
S A K 7
H
D
C K 7
TableS
H 9
D J
C J 9 4
South leadsS 9 6 5
H
D
C Q 8

71. Squeeze unblock finesse

NT win 3
S Q 5
H 3 2
D
C J
S J 10 9 7
H
D
C A
TableS A 6 4
H K 9
D
C
South leadsS K 8
H A J
D
C 9

72. Blocked fork strip

S win 3
S
H Q 7
D J 9 2
C
S 3
H J
D K 8 5
C
TableS
H K 9 5 2
D Q
C
South leadsS J
H 8
D A 7 3
C

73. En passant mutate

S win 4
S 8 6
H 7 4
D
C 8
S
H Q 9 8
D K J
C
TableS A Q
H 6
D 7 6
C
West leadsS K
H A J
D Q 10
C

74. Repeated trump discard

S win 4
S 4 2
H Q J 9
D
C
S 9
H 7
D 9 7 6
C
TableS K Q 8
H
D Q J
C
West leadsS A J 6 3
H
D
C 8

75. Squeeze scoop ruffout

S win 5
S
H K 9
D K
C A Q
S
H Q J
D Q
C J 6
TableS
H A 8
D
C K 5 4
South leadsS 9 7
H
D 9
C 9 7

76. Coup or squeeze

S win 5
S 8 6 4
H
D
C Q 9
S 7 5
H
D 6
C 10 7
TableS
H 5
D J 10
C K 8
South leadsS
H 7
D 7
C A 4 2

77. Triple-squeeze ruffout

S win 4
S 5 2
H
D 9 8
C 9
S
H K Q 9 7 5
D
C
TableS J
H 2
D K Q
C Q
West leadsS A 4
H
D 7 4
C 7

78. Progressive squeeze jettison scoop

NT win 4
S 5
H 9 5
D
C A 7
S 9
H A 10
D
C K 8
TableS
H Q 8
D
C J 10 9
South leadsS
H J
D 7 6
C Q 3

79. Double squeeze strip

NT win 4
S
H A 9 7
D 8 3
C
S K 5
H K 5 4
D
C
TableS
H 10 8 6
D 10 9
C
South leadsS 8
H Q J 3
D
C Q

80. One-way squeeze or ditto

NT win 4
S 7
H Q 7
D 7
C 7
S A
H 9 8 6
D 5
C
TableS
H
D A 6
C 8 6 4
South leadsS
H J
D J 4
C J 5

81. En passant or double squeeze

S win 4
S J 5
H 5
D
C J 8
S Q 9
H Q
D
C 9 6
TableS
H
D 9 8
C Q 7 4
South leadsS 3
H
D J 3
C K 3

82. Squeeze entry strip

NT win 4
S 5
H Q 6
D A J
C
S Q 6
H
D 9 7 6
C
TableS 9
H J 9
D K
C K
South leadsS 8
H
D Q 5 4
C 8

83. Double-squeeze scoop

NT win 4
S
H
D 8 6
C A Q 6
S
H
D J 10
C J 10 7
TableS
H 9 8
D
C K 8 4
South leadsS J
H J
D
C 9 5 3

84. Jettison strip mutate

S win 4
S
H A
D A
C K 9 2
S
H K
D 9 7 3
C Q
TableS 3
H J 5
D
C A 10
South leadsS 5
H Q 6
D 10 8
C

85. Split squeeze entry strip

NT win 3
S J 5 3
H
D A Q
C
S
H 9 6 4
D 4 2
C
TableS K Q 9
H
D K J
C
South leadsS 8 2
H Q 7 3
D
C

86. Hexagon squeeze finesse

NT win 4
S
H 9
D A 9
C 7 5
S
H J
D J 6
C J 6
TableS
H Q 7
D Q 7
C Q
South leadsS 8
H K 8
D 8
C 8

87. Endplays in series

NT win 4
S 9
H A 8
D
C 8 7
S K
H K 7 6 5
D
C
TableS 10
H
D 10 9
C 10 9
South leadsS
H 9 2
D 5
C A 4

88. Contra squeeze

NT win 3
S
H A
D 10 4 3
C A
S
H
D A Q 7 6 5
C
TableS A 2
H K
D J
C K
South leadsS K Q J
H
D K 2
C

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Original endings © 1967 George S. Coffin
© 1998 Richard Pavlicek