Main     Puzzle 8M49 by Richard Pavlicek    

Two Turtle Doves

How many times have you ruffed the opening lead? Hundreds, maybe? If you’re thinking in that neighborhood, you’re on the wrong page. I mean, how many times on a single deal, where virtually everyone’s honest answer would be once — not because of any fault but because opportunities for twice are extremely rare, except at Christmastime. Cue the orchestra!

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me — a par deal, in a pair game:

6 S South S 5 4 3 2
H K Q J 10 9
D J 10 9 8
C
Leader
1. W
2. S
3. S
4. N
5. N
Lead
C K
S A
H 2
H Q
D J!
2nd
S 2!
6
6
8
3rd
2
3
K
3
4th
S 8!
7
7
5
S 6
H 6 5
D K 7 6 5
C K Q J 10 9 8
Table S 7
H A 8 7
D Q 2
C A 7 6 5 4 3 2
Lead: C K S A K Q J 10 9 8
H 4 3 2
D A 4 3
C

Despite being gifted a ruff-sluff at Trick 1, declarer cannot benefit. If he ruffs in dummy and pitches a diamond, trumps are drawn, then East holds up the H A twice to defeat the contract. Pitching a heart instead, or ruffing in hand and pitching from dummy, also leads to a dead end. The only solution is to ruff twice; then if East holds up in hearts, diamonds can be established for a heart discard.

On the second day of Christmas, a star in the East opens 6 C, Jesus saves, and King Herod doubles. Watch this amazing grace:

6 S× South S 3
H A Q J 10
D A Q 10 9 8 6 5 2
C
Leader
1. W
2. N
3. S
4. N
5. S
6. N
7. S
8. N
9. S
10. N
11. S
Lead
C A
D A
H 2
D 2
H 3
D 5
H 4
D 6
H 5
D 8
S 9!
2nd
S 3!
C 3
6
C 4
7
C 6
8
C 8
K
C 10
10
3rd
2
S 4!
10
S 5
J
S 6
Q
S 7
A
S 8
4th
S 2!
3
9
4
C 5
7
C 7
J
C 9
K
S K J 10
H K 8 7 6
D K J 7 4 3
C A
Table S
H 9
D
C K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Lead: C A S A Q 9 8 7 6 5 4 2
H 5 4 3 2
D
C

King Herod leads his partner’s suit, giving Jesus two turtle doves. Then five gold rings (diamond ruffs) finessing hearts for transportation completes a sextuple trump reduction. Lunchtime for the King! Evidently Jesus didn’t “love his enemies” all that much. The incensed King retaliated by killing a camel, which explains why only two wise men showed up for the finals.

On the 13th day of Christmas, the grandest gift will be, 13 tricks-a-making…

Construct a deal where declarer must ruff the opening lead twice to make 7 S.

A further goal (tie-breaker for the December 2015 contest) is for the North-South hands to be as weak as possible, judged by the sum of all card ranks: Ace = 14, King = 13, Queen = 12, Jack = 11, etc.

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Hendrik Nigul Wins!

In December 2015 this puzzle was presented as a challenge, inviting anyone who wished to submit a solution. Perhaps the holiday season gave people more leisure time, as participation increased to 45 (second most in this series) following a two-month dropoff. Alas, the number of correct solutions took an opposite turn (by percentage) with only the 11 listed persons producing valid deals.

Congratulations to Hendrik Nigul, Estonia, whose clever construction topped the field hands down. This is Hendrik’s first entry in the current series, though he has participated in the past, including a second-place finish in The Law of Total Trash. (Of course, wise men claim that all my puzzles fit that law.)

RankNameLocationN-S Total
1Hendrik NigulEstonia167
2Tim BroekenNetherlands170
3Dan GheorghiuBritish Columbia170
4Leif-Erik StabellZimbabwe175
5Charles BlairIllinois176
6Tina DenleeQuebec177
7Tom SlaterEngland177
8Grant PeacockMaryland181
9Nicholas GreerEngland200
10Jamie PearsonOntario221
11Leigh MathesonAustralia221

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Solution

The first task is to determine a reason for ruffing the opening lead twice in a grand slam, which certainly can’t be to develop a throw-in play as in the examples. The standout answer is to initiate trump reduction for a trump coup, and every solver but one pursued such an approach. Nonetheless, I was delighted with the following unique theme from my longtime cyber friend, Charles Blair. His two turtle doves are required to avert a one-suit squeeze against declarer.

7 S South S 3
H 10 6 5 4 3
D 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
C
Leader
1. W
2. N
Lead
C J
H 10
2nd
S 3!
3rd
2
4th
S 2!
S
H 7
D
C A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
Table S J 10 9
H K 9 8
D A K Q J 10 9
C 2
Lead: C J S A K Q 8 7 6 5 4 2
H A Q J 2
D
C

Charles Blair: West, a bearded man dressed in red, leads fourth-best, [eschewing] the heart lead that would allow an easy make.

Declarer must ruff the club lead in dummy, else never get there; then any heart pitch from hand allows East to score a heart trick — ducking the H 10 if the two is pitched, or covering if an honor is pitched. Only the double ruff allows the heart suit to be picked up.

As Charles alludes, the grand slam is makable against any lead. Though not a requirement, only one other solver (Jamie Pearson) produced a deal with this feature, so they earn style points — which, by the way, accumulate free miles for any PavCo Airlines destination.

During this puzzle run, several respondents submitted deals with West having all 13 clubs. This alone was fine, but my “must ruff the opening lead twice” requirement was intended as unconditional; i.e., not dependent on whether East ruffs or discards. Because of the possible ambiguity, I sent these people a message to clarify the requirement. Note that with 13 clubs in West, a legitimate solution is possible based on Charles’s theme, with North holding S 10-9 and East J-3.

Coup me now, or coup me later

Our two most prolific solvers, Tim and Dan, constructed essentially identical layouts. While based on the popular trump coup, they include a squeeze element that dictates precise timing of the final trump reduction.

7 S South S A 3
H A Q
D 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
C
Leader
1. W
2. N
3. S
4. N
5. S
6. N
Lead
C K
D 2
H 2
D 3
S 6
D 10
2nd
S 3!
A
K
Q
K
3rd
2
S 4
A
S 5
A
4th
S 2!
J
8
K
8
S K
H K
D K J
C A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6
Table S J 9 8
H J 10 9 8
D A Q
C 5 4 3 2
Lead: C K S Q 10 7 6 5 4 2
H 7 6 5 4 3 2
D
C

Dan Gheorghiu: A club lead gives declarer two turtle doves (first trump reduction) retaining the lead in dummy; then a yo-yo between dummy and hand, ruffing diamonds, attains two more reductions. From Trick 6 on, East is under pressure: If he ruffs, declarer pulls the remaining trump and returns to dummy which is good, so the best defense is to discard useless cards. But wait! There is one more trump reduction to be made, and the crux is to delay this until East discards his next-to-last heart; then ruff and cross to the H Q (which makes South’s hearts high) to continue diamonds. This twisted trump coup is like a spade-heart squeeze against East.

Tim Broeken’s layout was rotated 180 degrees, so declarer held S A-3. Transfer bids must be the trend in Dutch country.

Hail the crossruff coup

The best solution reduced the North-South total to only 167. Moreover, it achieves the goal in spectacular fashion without a single side-suit winner at the start. Hats off to Hendrik Nigul, whose construction tops my own best effort in preparing this contest.

7 S South S A J 9 7 6 2
H
D Q 7 6 5 4 3 2
C
Leader
1. W
2. S
3. N
4. S
5. N
Lead
C A
H 2
D 2
H 3
D 3
2nd
S 2!
K
8
A
9
3rd
2
S 6
S 4
S 7
S 5
4th
S 3!
J
K
Q
A
S Q 10 8
H A K
D A K
C A K Q J 10 9
Table S
H Q J
D J 10 9 8
C 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Lead: C A S K 5 4 3
H 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
D
C

After the ruff-ruff start, declarer crossruffs the next four tricks as West follows suit, establishing the heart suit and the D Q — but not the diamond suit, which is the key factor that necessitates the double ruff. This leaves the ending below:

On heart leads, West has no answer. If he discards, so does dummy, and the process continues. If he ruffs, dummy overruffs, and a diamond ruff establishes dummy’s suit; then hearts are led until West ruffs, after which trumps are drawn and dummy is good.

Indeed, the need to ruff twice at Trick 1 is hardly obvious; but if declarer ruffs only in hand, dummy’s trumps cannot be reduced for the coup; and if he ruffs only in dummy, he cannot return safely to hand with West poised to overruff the third diamond.
South
leads
S A J 9
H
D Q 7 6 5 4
C
S Q 10 8
H
D
C K Q J 10 9
Table S
H
D J 10
C 8 7 6 5 4 3
S K
H 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
D
C

Happy New Year!

Leigh Matheson: I think the Grinch inspired this puzzle.

Jamie Pearson: I found this quite difficult. Great puzzle!

Grant Peacock: I love the simplicity of the puzzle statement; it’s like the Goldbach’s conjecture of bridge puzzles.

Tim Broeken: You made all my train rides the last few weeks a lot more fun.

Dan Gheorghiu: Two doves to everyone who participated in the 2015 series, and a huge camel to the professor!

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© 2015 Richard Pavlicek