The Diamonds Are Paste
Upon returning from the evening duplicate, you retire to your four-poster with a shot of your favorite liqueur, preparing to study your handrecord printout. (That is what you do, isn't it?) You happen to glance first at the back side of the sheet, and this board catches your eye:
If you and your partner happened to reach
7NT, then take full
marks for your bidding despite your zero on the board, because the contract is
easily made 96% of the time. Those who reached the inferior
NT were undeservedly lucky, as the opponents were unable both to
develop and cash a club trick. Most of the field, however, played in
6♦, doubtlessly congratulating themselves for their conservatism
when the bad trump split was revealed.
But you are more concerned with The Way It Is
than The Way It Was, and the little analysis —
compliments of the marvelous program,
shows that south actually can take all the tricks in diamonds on a
double-dummy basis. Hmmm. Intrigued, you resolve to determine how
that might be accomplished. Study the problem if you like, before reading on.
Your first clue is in the analysis itself: it indicates that if north is
declarer, only twelve tricks can be won. Hmmm. Such a disparity
always means that one defender is able to make a more effective opening move,
such as leading though an unprotected king, obtaining a
or the like. In this case, the only meaningful difference is the option of a
diamond lead by east, which is sufficient evidence that a trump lead would defeat
a contract of 7♦ Hmmm.
That slight clue suggests that it might not be in declarer's best interests to play
on trumps early, which is indeed the case. Being a serious student of the game,
you have studied books on play problems and card combinations over your bridge
lifetime, thereby markedly improving your skills. So it isn't too difficult for
you to envision the requisite
end-position for avoiding a trump loser:
North leads a black card, and east is powerless to protect his position.
This exotic Trump Coup is not possible without a
re-entry to dummy in the trump
suit itself, and that is why an opening diamond lead would scuttle any chance of
winning all the tricks.
Awareness of the necessary ending matrix also provides sufficient clues to
solving the entire problem. It is necessary for declarer to shorten his
trumps by ruffing two black cards, yet also to have dummy on lead after the
eighth trick. Therefore, three dummy entries are needed outside the trump
suit, and the only possibilities are the
♥AQ and the
♠A. Has the light dawned yet?
Let's try the play against, say, a heart lead. This trick must be taken in
the south hand. Now the
♠K is overtaken by dummy's
♠A, and the ♠J is led.
If east covers, declarer ruffs; otherwise he discards the ♣9,
then trumps a spade. Let's say that east covers the second spade.
South ruffs, crosses to the the heart queen and ... Oops! No good.
After cashing the ♠10, if dummy's last spade is led for a ruff,
east will dump his singleton club queen. So the ♣A must
be played off before leading the second heart. Now matters are in hand.
Declarer ruffs a black card and plays his remaining heart to dummy's ace, achieving the
Is it correct to play the hand that way? Of course not — unless, perhaps,
east has foolishly doubled a bid of
7♦. But now you have
determined The Way It Is, and that's the way you want it.