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Lightner Misfire

South’s final bid was ill-judged based on the imminent heart ruff (North’s 5 S raise implied no heart control) and he was headed for a rout. East doubled the slam to request an unusual lead (not a heart or a trump) which is typically based on a void. If West could have put his hand on a diamond, the Lightner double would have paid huge dividends, down five.

Problem
6 S× S K
H 10 3 2
D 10 4 3 2
C A K Q 9 2
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass


North

5 S
Pass


East
3 H
Pass
Dbl


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

West reasoned that East’s void could be in either minor. If it were in diamonds, the ruff might not be necessary, since West rated to win one or more diamond tricks; but if it were in clubs, the ruff might be crucial. Oops.

Declarer now can succeed, but it requires exacting play. Can you make 6 S after the C J lead?

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Solution

The key play comes at trick one: Declarer must win the club in dummy and discard the diamond queen from his hand. The remaining clubs must be left untouched. Three rounds of trumps are led, overtaking the king and discarding a club and a diamond from dummy.

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

South next leads the H K (see ending) and East is obliged to duck; if he wins the ace, he is endplayed and must give dummy the lead and declarer the contract. Now it is West’s turn. South leads a low diamond, which West must win (else declarer gets to dummy with the D 10) only to find himself hopelessly endplayed. South
leads
S
H 10 3 2
D 10 4 3
C K Q 9
S
H
D K J 9 8 7
C 10 8 7 6
Table S
H AJ98765
D
C 5 4
S 10 9 8
H K Q 4
D A 6 5
C

The importance of discarding the D Q early is apparent. If South remained with D A-Q-6 and led the queen, West could simply duck to leave South stuck in his hand without recourse.

Curiously, based on East’s Lightner double, the play of this hand is not really double-dummy. Once East follows to the club lead, one can deduce he is void in diamonds. Therefore, a great player like Bob Hamman could visualize the double endplay from the start — though it’s hardly relevant, as he wouldn’t have bid 6 S in the first place.

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© 1995 Richard Pavlicek