Main     Article 7J17 by Richard Pavlicek    

Self-Destructing

Good morning, Mr. Phelps. Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to make this contract. But I must warn you: Subversive agents have infiltrated the playing area and will undermine your actions. If you need help, and I’m sure you will, you may select your mission team from the photos attached. Be careful!

This deal will self-destruct in 10 minutes.

3 NT by South

None Vul
S 6 5 4
H Q 9 2
D A K 8 6 4
C 9 2
S A K 8 7
H A J 8 6 5
D 9 5
C 6 5
TableS 9 2
H 7 3
D J 10 7 3
C J 10 8 7 4
Lead: H 6S Q J 10 3
H K 10 4
D Q 2
C A K Q 3

West

2 C
North

3 NT
East

All Pass
South
1 NT

West’s 2 C overcall is Landy (showing both majors) and he leads the H 6, which you presume is fourth best. The lead gives you a free finesse and ensures eight tricks (two hearts, three diamonds and three clubs), but great care is necessary to enjoy a ninth trick.

The first key play is to win the heart king, else West could prevent you from reaching dummy later in hearts. There is not enough time to establish a spade trick (West would set up his hearts first) so you correctly work on diamonds by winning the queen and crossing to dummy’s king. You next lead the D A, right?

Wrong! If you did, you would self-destruct! You can safely pitch a club on the D A, but when you next give East his diamond trick your hand would be squeezed: You need to keep both hearts to reach dummy, and obviously you can’t afford to pitch a club winner; if you pitched a spade, East could shift to spades and West could establish his long spade to set you.

The correct play is to concede a diamond on the third round (or second round), keeping a high diamond in dummy. Now the defense is helpless to stop you from winning nine tricks.

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© 1999 Richard Pavlicek