Main     Article 7J25 by Richard Pavlicek    

The Poison Queen

West on this deal held all four queens, and one of them was poison. Can you find the deadly monarch? Make a guess now and, as Regis Philbin would say, I’ll ask for your “final answer” in a moment.

The first five bids were impeccable. South’s 2 D may look weird, but it was the popular “new minor forcing” convention to elicit more information, and North properly indicated his three-card heart fit. South then went berserk. Or, to be kind, let’s say he was arithmetically challenged to expect a 16-point hand (14 HCP + 2 for distribution) to produce a slam.

6 H by South

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

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 C
1 NT
2 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
2 D
6 H?

It was South’s lucky day! With two finesses working, the slam had a chance. After winning the D A, South cashed the H K and led a heart to the jack — how sweet. Next, declarer deliberately gave up a club, leading low to the nine and 10. West was now on lead, and the fate of the contract was on the line — he could beat the slam by leading any of his queens but one. It’s time for your final answer. Which was the poison queen?

In practice, West tried to cash his D Q, but South ruffed and led a trump to the ace. Next came the C A and C K to reveal the club layout. South now led his last trump (pitching a club from North) and East was squeezed — he had to pitch a spade to keep the D J (else dummy’s 10 would be good) — so declarer won the last four tricks in spades, aided by the finesse.

Ouch! You guessed it. West led the only queen to let declarer to make the egregious slam.

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© 2000 Richard Pavlicek