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Weird Deal Spawns Seesaw Battle

  by Richard Pavlicek

There is a difference of opinion as to the makings of a good bridge player. Many feel this talent can be accrued through practice and study. Others feel it is inherent from birth. And some will appreciate this quote (origin unknown): “You can teach a bridge player only so much; the rest is up to his natural sense of depravity.”

The quotation came to mind as I constructed today’s deal, which is not from actual play. The best contract is five clubs, which is simple to make. Five diamonds can be made with careful play — declarer must establish a discard in clubs by a loser-on-loser play and a ruffing finesse. But I will force you to play three notrump, which might be reached after the auction shown.

3 NT South
None Vul
S A K 2
H A 5 4
C Q J 10 9 8 7 6

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

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

West leads the heart queen and you pause to consider your chances. Establishing the diamond suit is pointless for lack of entries to your hand, so your eye is on the clubs. If you win the heart in dummy and lead a club, East will win and return a heart to establish West’s suit while he has a club entry. So you duck the first trick. Good start.

If West continues hearts you are in clover, so the diabolical fellow shifts to a spade. Now you have the same problem in spades. If you win the first spade, West will take the first club lead and return a spade to establish East’s suit. Therefore, you duck the second trick as well.

Now you got ‘em. If East returns a spade (or a heart), you can drive out the top clubs. The defenders cannot enjoy the long cards in either major suit because of communication problems.

But wait! East now shifts to a diamond. You cannot afford to lose a diamond (this would give the enemy five tricks) so you win the king, cross to dummy and lead a club. East wins the club to lead a second diamond, the finesse loses, and West cashes the club ace. Welcome to the graveyard.

Weird. To beat three notrump, the defense had to lead all four suits.

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© 1987 Richard Pavlicek