Main     Puzzle 7F61 by Richard Pavlicek    

Puzzlers Anonymous

It was “Initiation Night” at the weekly Puzzlers Anonymous meeting, and just one new applicant was scheduled to appear. The P.A. regulars had arrived early and were musing about the mental gyrations they had in store for the newbie — one Timothy Tenace — who would join their ranks.

“Let’s go easy this time,” suggested one. “We’re running short of members as it is.”

“No way!” interjected Professor Freebid, the senior P.A. member, as a hush fell over the room. “I have a puzzle that will grill him good.”

Suddenly the door opened, and in walked a scrawny bespectacled young man, hardly a day over 21, with a disheveled look that labeled him as the perfect candidate. “Hi, I’m Timothy. Is this the P.A. meeting?”

“Yes, come right in,” lured the Professor. “You’re just in time. Tonight’s topic is bridge. Do you play the game?”

“I sure do,” Timothy asserted, “and I just became a Life Master.”

“I see,” said the Professor. “That might explain it all. Oh well, it’s too late to change that. Let’s see how good you are on opening leads. Sitting West, you pick up:

S K Q 10
H K Q 9
D K Q 3 2
C K J 10
Table

“Before you have a chance to bid, your opponents Blackwood their way to slam. This is what you hear:”

West

Pass
North
4 S
5 D
East
Pass
Pass
South
4 NT
6 NT

“That’s ridiculous,” said Timothy. “I would double for sure.”

“OK, suppose you double and it’s your lead. Which card do you lead?”

“Does it really matter?” Timothy laughed. “South has obviously lost his mind and he’s going down a bunch.”

“Maybe not,” said the Professor. “There might be some method to his madness. Now, which card would you lead?”

“Hmm,” Timothy thought. “The dummy is going to come down with a long spade suit and exactly one ace from the Blackwood answer… probably ace-jack seventh or eighth. I’ll just lead the spade king…”

“Bzzzt! Wrong,” interrupted the Professor. “North’s ace might not be in spades. The deal could be:

S J 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
H 10
D 10
C A Q 9
S K Q 10
H K Q 9
D K Q 3 2
C K J 10
TableS
H 6 5 4 3 2
D 7 6 5 4
C 8 7 6 5
S A 2
H A J 8 7
D A J 9 8
C 4 3 2

“As you can see, leading the S K gives declarer 11 easy tricks with the club finesse, and you will get squeezed for 12.”

“Wait a second,” said Timothy. “What if I lead the ten of spades? Doesn’t this mess up declarer’s communication?”

“Hardly,” chided the Professor. “Declarer wins two spades, finesses the club and gives you a spade. Then you return a club (best) to remove dummy’s last entry. The squeeze still works because you have to protect three suits:

S 6 5
H 10
D 10
C 9
S
H K Q
D K Q
C J
TableS
H 6 5
D 7 6
C 8
S
H A J
D A J 9
C

“On the S 6 South throws a diamond, and you must give up a trick. Curiously, South could even throw the heart ace and succeed with a repeating triple squeeze. Sorry, you’ll have to do better than a spade lead if you want to beat this slam.”

“Darn!” Timothy exclaimed. “I see what you mean. I guess I’d better lead the diamond king then.”

“Bzzzt! Wrong again,” said the Professor. “If you do that, the layout could be:

S J 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
H 10 8
D
C A Q 9
S K Q 10
H K Q 9
D K Q 3 2
C K J 10
TableS 2
H 7 6 5 4 3 2
D 4
C 8 7 6 5 4
S A
H A J
D A J 10 9 8 7 6 5
C 3 2

“The diamond king plays right into declarer’s mitt, allowing him to easily establish that suit for 11 tricks. And, of course, you will be squeezed as usual for the 12th trick.”

“Argh,” resigned Timothy. “I guess that also eliminates the heart king, since declarer’s long suit could just as easily be hearts.”

“Very good! You are finally showing some deductive powers.”

“And obviously a club lead could be equally bad,” Timothy continued. “So I guess there’s no lead that’s guaranteed to beat the slam.”

“Bzzzt! What is the first thing you were taught about leading against notrump? Fourth from your longest. That’s right! All you have to do is lead a low diamond and there is no layout on which declarer could succeed, assuming North has exactly one ace as indicated by the Blackwood response. The possibilities, however, are interesting. Look at this one:

S A J 9 8 7 6 5
H J 10
D 9 8
C Q 2
S K Q 10
H K Q 9
D K Q 3 2
C K J 10
TableS 3 2
H 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
D 7 6 5 4
C
S 4
H A
D A J 10
C A 9 8 7 6 5 4 3

“After winning the D 10, declarer will lead a low club. When you win the C K you must return the S K to kill dummy’s entry, else you would be squeezed.

“And here’s another:

S A J 9 8 7 6 5
H J 10
D 8 7 6
C 2
S K Q 10
H K Q 9
D K Q 3 2
C K J 10
TableS
H 6 5 4 3 2
D 5 4
C 8 7 6 5 4 3
S 4 3 2
H A 8 7
D A J 10 9
C A Q 9

“After winning the D 9, declarer will start spades, and you must play the ten first to let North’s jack win. Declarer next ducks a spade, and you must return your last spade immediately to prevent declarer from executing a Vienna coup and squeezing you.

“This may be difficult to see, so here’s what would happen if you failed to lead your last spade, or if you split your spade honors on the first round. Declarer would cash both red aces before running the spades to reach this ending:

S 6
H J
D 8
C 2
S
H K
D K
C K J
TableS
H 6 5
D
C 8 7
S
H
D J
C A Q 9

“On the last spade, South throws his diamond and you are triple squeezed. Throwing a club would surrender two tricks immediately, so you part with a red king. It makes no difference which; declarer leads dummy’s new winner to squeeze you again.

“Of course, the above is only possible with misdefense. Anyone who is clever enough to lead a low diamond against 6 NT would hardly fall into that trap. Right, Timothy?”

“Say what?”

“I said good night, Timothy. And remember, you’re on the wagon now. No more puzzles until our next meeting.”

TopMain

© 1984 Richard Pavlicek