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The Vanishing Trump Trick

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal, from a recent practice match, contains an opportunity of rare device. West apparently has a guaranteed trump trick, yet it will vanish like a pea in a shell game. Watch closely and observe that my fingers never leave my hands.

4 H South
E-W Vul
S K 9
H A K 2
D K 8 4
C 9 7 5 4 3


2 NT
4 H

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

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

North had a choice of responses to South’s opening bid. Showing the club suit was pointless (pun intended) so he bid two notrump to describe a balanced hand. South rebid his suit and North raised to game. (North intended to raise hearts next even if South did not show six.)

West led the diamond queen, which held, and continued with the jack as South ruffed. A heart to the king revealed the lopsided trump break, and declarer paused to take stock. West’s queen was in a finessable position, but North had too few trumps to capture it. Obviously, if South later leads the jack, West would not cover with the queen.

Declarer looked elsewhere, but it was all in vain. There was no way to avoid losing two club tricks, so down one seemed inevitable. Oh, well; might as well play it out and hope for something magical.

Declarer ruffed dummy’s last diamond, then he cashed three rounds of spades and the ace of clubs. A club was led to West, who returned a trump to South’s nine. At this point South held J-10 in hearts and a club; West held Q-8 in hearts and a diamond; North was down to the blank ace of hearts and two clubs. The next part happens pretty fast, so keep an eye on the queen of trumps.

South led his last club, West discarded his diamond (it would not help to ruff his partner’s trick), and East won the queen. East returned a spade (a diamond makes no difference), and South ruffed with the jack. Presto! If West overruffs, North also overruffs with the ace; if West underruffs, North discards a club. Either way, West never makes a trump trick.

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© 1989 Richard Pavlicek