Main     Puzzle 7F18 by Richard Pavlicek    

Valentine Magic

South appears to have mistaken Valentine’s Day for Christmas in the bidding, as the final bid is more than a tad optimistic. Perhaps you can save the day and find a way to make this grand slam — or at least give it a try before you look at the answer.

Problem
7 H S Q 5 2
H Q 6 3
D A K J 9 8
C A 4
N-S Vul

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass


North
1 NT
2 D
4 H
5 H


East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass


South
2 C
3 H
4 NT
7 H
S J 7 6
H 9 8 7
D 7 3
C Q J 10 6 5
Table S K 4 3
H 5 2
D 10 6 5 4 2
C 9 8 7
Lead: C Q S A 10 9 8
H A K J 10 4
D Q
C K 3 2

At first this contract looks easy, as declarer has 12 top tricks (five hearts, four diamonds, two clubs, one spade) and can ruff a low club in dummy for 13. Not true! If you ruff a club, you will be unable to win four diamond tricks because the suit is blocked.

Take it from there.

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Solution

Since declarer has 12 tricks, either in high cards or by ruffing a club at the expense of a diamond trick, the first idea would be a squeeze play. Perhaps East can be squeezed, since he holds the S K and a diamond stopper. No, East will discard after dummy so it will not work.

The solution is indeed based on a squeeze play, but not the ordinary kind. Both opponents are involved in a “double ruffout squeeze.” The ending is difficult to spot because a key element — North’s S 5 — appears to be irrelevant opposite South’s 10-9-8.

Win the C K and cash H K-J (any two trumps are OK as long as you save the queen). Next lead the D Q and overtake with the king. Lead the D 9, East covers with the 10 and you ruff. (If East did not cover, discard a spade and ruff the D 8 with the H 10.) Cash the S A (key play) then cross to dummy with the H Q to win the rest of the diamonds.

Solution
7 H S Q 5 2
H Q 6 3
D A K J 9 8
C A 4
Trick
1. W
2. S
3. N
4. S
5. S
6. S
7. S
8. N
9. N
W 9 L 0
Lead
C Q
D Q
D 9
H K
H J
S A!
H 10
D A
D J
2nd
4!
3
10
7
8
6
9
5
6
3rd
7
K!
H 4
3
6
2
Q
S 8
S 9
4th
K
2
7
2
5
3
D 4
C 5
C 6
S J 7 6
H 9 8 7
D 7 3
C Q J 10 6 5
Table S K 4 3
H 5 2
D 10 6 5 4 2
C 9 8 7
S A 10 9 8
H A K J 10 4
D Q
C K 3 2

When North leads his last diamond (see ending) East must throw a club else his S K ruffs out, South throws his last spade, and West is also squeezed. If he throws a spade, North’s queen can be led through East to smother the jack and establish the five. If West instead throws a club, the C A is cashed and South wins the last trick with the C 3 — or more poetically with the carefully preserved C 2. North
leads
S Q 5
H
D 8
C A
S J 7
H
D
C J 10
Table S K 4
H
D
C 9 8
S 10
H A
D
C 3 2

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© 1994 Richard Pavlicek