Seven Notrump

In which some people who play bridge blog about it.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A slam puzzle

Contract: 6 ♠ 
Lead: ♥ K
♠ A 9 2
♥ 9 6 4
♦ J 9 8 6 5 2
♣ 7
♠ 10 8 3
♥ K Q J 3
♦ 10 4
♣ K 9 6 2
♠ 7 5
♥ 10 8 5
♦ Q 7 3
♣ Q 10 8 4 3
♠ K Q J 6 4
♥ A 7 2
♦ A K
♣ A J 5

The contract is 6 spades, whoo! You have two heart losers and club issues, as well as a possible diamond problem. West leads the king of hearts. How do you proceed?


  At Monday, July 31, 2006 6:13:00 PM, Blogger M said:

You could try throwing low to the heart king, then winning the next one with the ace (assuming they respond with another heart, which is likely) and drawing trumps out. But I really can't see any way of doing this without getting set. You'd need to finesse one club and diamond trick each--the diamond with dummy's jack, the club with your own jack--and the way the table is set up that's impossible. Or is there something I'm just not seeing? If there is, I'd guess it has to do with some sort of sloughing-off during obvious trick discards.

  At Monday, July 31, 2006 6:47:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

You're right that finessing clubs and diamonds won't do it, and neither will trumping those clubs. There's another way to develop some extra tricks. It's actually possible to make all 13 tricks if you get lucky, but that's not worth shooting for.

The floor is open for suggestions!

  At Monday, July 31, 2006 6:58:00 PM, Blogger M said:

OK, one step at a time: First, do you let the heart king slide?

  At Monday, July 31, 2006 7:13:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

I wouldn't -- I don't see what the advantage of doing that might be. Win the heart and save your one losable trick for a rainy day.

  At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 10:28:00 AM, Blogger M said:

OK, you take the ace. I'll wager it's jumping the gun to switch to trump to draw them out, because unless distribution is truly freakish (it's not, here) that's not going to be a problem. Cash the A-K of diamonds, then the club ace, leading back to dummy's trump. Then, I think I get this now, start cross-ruffing diamonds (from dummy) and clubs (from hand). Because we have all the high trump it won't matter what E-W has, as long as we throw higher cards. This is the strategy you're talking about, or close to it, then?

  At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 10:37:00 AM, Blogger M said:

that should be "leading another club to dummy's trump," btw

  At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 11:04:00 AM, Blogger Paul said:

That's good thinking ... let me see. I still see two heart losers. Can you give yourself an opportunity to discard somehow?

  At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 11:15:00 AM, Blogger M said:

If we're ruffing dummy's diamonds, the queen's going to shake out eventually; once that's finished, a lot of those diamonds are going to remain good. Maybe that's the point at which we can dump hearts.

  At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Paul said:

Exactly -- the defenders'll be void in diamonds after the third round, and you'll still have three in dummy. But those three diamonds aren't winners while there's still trump out on the street ...

  At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 12:32:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Here's a hint: the way I play it out involves only two ruffing tricks.

  At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 12:43:00 PM, Blogger M said:

You should probably just outline your play; I'm really interested to see it.

  At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 1:12:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Yeah. I was hoping someone else might come along and take a stab, but that could take months, and I have another hand I want to post.

My solution is below. There may well be other good solutions too. Anybody who wants to solve it for yourself, stop reading now.


I win the heart lead in my hand, pull one round of trump with the king, cash the diamond A-K and the club ace, and lead a low trump toward dummy. I'm depending here on West having the 10 so I can finesse the 9.

Fortunately the finesse works. That's crucial because I need two entries to the dummy. First I lead a diamond from dummy, drawing out the queen of diamonds, and ruff it in my hand with the jack; then I lead another low trump from my hand to the trump winner remaining on the board. The defenders are now out of trumps.

I throw two heart losers and a club loser on dummy's three good diamonds, and the queen of trump provides the winning trick. If careless defenders have discarded all their clubs by this point, my club jack can win the thirteenth trick -- if not, so be it.

Was that clear? I guess the take-home lessons from this hand are: Establish your long side suit and Pay attention to how you're going to get back to dummy. If I had just used dummy's ace as my first entry, I wouldn't have been able to get up there a second time and run my diamonds.

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