Article 7J25 Main

The Poison Queen

 by Richard Pavlicek

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.

North dealsS K J 3WestNorthEastSouth
None vulH A J 21 CPass1 H
D 10 8 2Pass1 NTPass2 D
C A 5 4 2Pass2 HPass6 H?
S Q 6TableS 10 9 4 2PassPassPass
H Q 10 8H 9 3
D K Q 9 4D J 7 6 5 3
C Q 10 8 6C J 3
S A 8 7 5
H K 7 6 5 4
6 H SouthC K 9 7

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.

Article 7J25 MainTop The Poison Queen

© 2000 Richard Pavlicek