Puzzle 7E81   Main

Tough Victim

by Richard Pavlicek

After a cue-bidding frenzy, you believe you have what it takes to stretch 27 HCP into a slam. Well, do you, punk? One thing’s for sure: West will be a tough victim to bring into submission.

 6 South A Q 6 J 3 2 A 5 4 3 2 K 2 None Vul West2 PassPassPassPassAll Pass North3 3 4 5 5 EastPassPassPassPassPass SOUTH1 3 4 4 5 6 2 K Q 10 K Q J 10 9 8 Q 4 3 5 4 3 9 8 7 7 6 10 9 8 7 6 Lead: K K J 10 9 8 7 A 6 5 4 — A J 5

Eleven tricks are easy by ruffing a club in dummy, then it seems like your best chance is to endplay West in hearts. Alas, this is easier said than done.

Can you find the way to make 6 ?

 Puzzle 7E81   Main Top   Tough Victim

Solution

If you could reach a three-card ending where West has K-Q-10, a low heart from hand will endplay him, but this can’t be done. If you win the A early, West will keep K-Q and a good diamond; or if you leave the A stranded, West will keep K-Q-10 and a diamond — either way he gets two tricks.

Instead of ruffing your third club for an 11th trick, you must negotiate four diamond ruffs in hand. The dummy reversal produces 11 tricks in the form of three spades, one heart, five diamonds (ace + four ruffs) and two clubs. Then with perfect timing you can squeeze West in hearts and clubs.

Do not win the A, but ruff the lead in hand; cross to dummy with a trump; ruff a diamond, and lead a low heart. West wins, and his only safe return is a third diamond (East pitching a heart) as you ruff in hand. Next cash the A; cross to the K; ruff a fourth diamond; then lead your last trump, overtaking in dummy to reach this ending:

 win all 6 J A 2 — K J Q 4 5 — — 10 9 8 North leads — 6 5 — A J

The 6 draws the last trump, as you pitch a heart, and West a diamond. Finally, the A squeezes West; he must keep the K with the jack in view, so he’ll pitch a club, and the queen comes tumbling down.

Trap: If the A is taken on the first or second round, East is able to pitch all his hearts to prevent South from unblocking the A (Vienna coup), necessary for the squeeze.

A remarkable feature is that the final squeeze card against West is the ace of his own long suit.

 Puzzle 7E81   Main Top   Tough Victim