Puzzle 7F26   Main

# A King’s Ransom

by Richard Pavlicek

Can you find the winning defense to send South packing? I doubt that anyone could find it at the table! But looking at all four hands, how can 3 NT be defeated against best play?

 3 NT SouthE-W Vul A 5 4 K J Q 10 8 7 6 J 8 4 WestPass North3 NT EastAll Pass SOUTH1 NT K 9 7 6 3 7 6 5 4 K J 10 2 10 2 10 9 8 A 9 2 K 9 7 6 3 Lead: ? Q J 8 A Q 3 2 5 4 3 A Q 5

Beware! Declarer is a shrewd dude and a master of the holdup play. For example, if West leads a spade to East’s 10, South will duck to break the defenders’ communication.

## Solution

West must lead the 10, which South must duck (or cover with the jack and duck East’s king). If South wins the first club, it is a simple matter for West to take the first diamond lead and clear the club suit while East has an entry.

 3 NT South A 5 4 K J Q 10 8 7 6 J 8 4 Trick1 W2 W3 E Lead 10! 3! 6! 2nd44Q 3rd3102 4th588 W-LL1L2W1 K 9 7 6 3 7 6 5 4 K J 10 2 10 2 10 9 8 A 9 2 K 9 7 6 3 Lead: 10 Q J 8 A Q 3 2 5 4 3 A Q 5

At trick two West must lead a low spade to East’s 10 (or East must lead the 10 if on lead) and South again must duck to shut out the spade suit in similar fashion.

East then leads a club to South’s queen. Declarer now seems to be in good shape since the defenders lack the communication to establish clubs or spades. But the defenders have a bombshell in store:

 NT win 8Failure A 5 K J Q 10 8 7 6 J Trick4 S5 E6 S Lead 3 7 Q 2ndJ!A6! 3rdQ K!5 4thAJ2 W-LL1W1W2 K 9 7 6 7 6 5 4 K J — 2 10 9 8 A 9 2 K 9 7 South leads Q J A Q 3 2 5 4 3 A

South leads a diamond; jack, queen, ace. East returns a club and — sound the trumpets — West jettisons the K. This presents declarer with a diamond winner, but since hearts are blocked, there is no way to score nine tricks. Note that East still has a diamond stopper with the guarded nine, and West can stop hearts if declarer overtakes an honor on the second round.

If declarer could unblock hearts before leading a diamond from hand, he could succeed; but if hearts are unblocked, the diamond must be led from dummy, else cross to the A which is certain failure. Indeed, there is no way to make 3 NT with the given defense.

 Puzzle 7F26   Main Top   A King’s Ransom