Puzzle 7F18   Main

# Valentine Magic

by Richard Pavlicek

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.

 7 SouthN-S Vul Q 5 2 Q 6 3 A K J 9 8 A 4 WestPassPassPassAll Pass NORTH1 NT2 4 5 EastPassPassPassPass South2 3 4 NT7 J 7 6 9 8 7 7 3 Q J 10 6 5 K 4 3 5 2 10 6 5 4 2 9 8 7 Lead: Q A 10 9 8 A K J 10 4 Q K 3 2

At first the 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 cannot win four diamond tricks, because the suit is blocked.

Are you a magician? Take it from there.

## 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. Perhaps East can be squeezed, since he holds the K and a diamond stopper. No, East will discard after dummy so it will not work.

The solution is indeed based on a squeeze, 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 5 — appears to be irrelevant opposite South’s 10-9-8.

Win the club lead in hand and cash K-J, or any two trumps as long as you save the queen.

 7 South Q 5 2 Q 6 3 A K J 9 8 A 4 Trick1 W2 S3 S4 S5 N6 S7 S8 N9 N Lead Q K J Q 9 A! 4 A J 2nd4!783106956 3rd736K! 102Q 8 9 4thK25273 4 5 6 W-LW1W2W3W4W5W6W7W8W9 J 7 6 9 8 7 7 3 Q J 10 6 5 K 4 3 5 2 10 6 5 4 2 9 8 7 Lead: Q A 10 9 8 A K J 10 4 Q K 3 2

Next lead the Q and overtake in dummy to run the 9. Assume East covers with the 10 (if not pitch a spade and ruff the 8); ruff with the 10 (or any heart) and cash the A (key play). Cross to the Q and win two more diamonds to reach this ending:

 win allSuccess Q 5 — 8 A Trick10 N11 N Lead 8 Q! 2nd 8 3rd 10 4th 7 W-LW1 J 7 — — J 10 K 4 — — 9 8 North leads 10 A — 3 2

Now lead the good 8 to pitch your remaining spade. East must discard a club (else his K ruffs out) then West is in trouble. If West throws a spade, dummy’s queen is led through East to smother the jack and establish the 5. If West instead throws a club, the A is cashed and South wins the last trick with the 3 — or more dramatically, the carefully preserved 2.

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