by Ted Muller

South to make 6

I discovered this tricky layout while developing a computer program.  A number of pitfalls are available to both the offense and the defense.

Declarer wins the opening club lead with the ace as east plays the ten-spot, then cashes the A-K.  If east keeps a high trump, then the K is cashed, discarding a small red card.  A club is ruffed and the 10 is led, covered by east (although it doesn't matter).  South's king wins, the last club is ruffed, and hearts are finessed again.  If east ducks, dummy wins and leads the 10, jack, queen.  If instead east covers the second heart, declarer wins, plays a third heart to dummy, then leads the 10.

In hand with the Q, south cashes any heart honor he may still hold, then throws east in with a trump lead for an endplay in diamonds.  What fun!

Now let's go back.  Suppose east discards his trump honors on the first two leads!  That changes everything.  Declarer cashes the A, discarding dummy's 3.  East's best play is to unblock a club honor, in which case declarer must now lead the Q!  East grabs the king and can do no better than to return a club.

Dummy ruffs and advances the 10.  If that is ducked, then the 10 is led, covered and won by south.  Declarer cashes the A and draws the trumps with dummy's 10.  The long diamond and another heart finesse brings declarer to twelve tricks.  Alternatively, if the 10 is covered, south wins and plays either a diamond or a spade to dummy for the first heart finesse.

Traps:

• If east plays the 2, declarer has fewer losing options.  For example, he can afford to discard from either red suit on the second high club.

Assuming that east unblocks the first club:

• If declarer cashes a club at trick two and discards a diamond, east can defeat him by subsequently unblocking both his club and spade honors.  Now when declarer leads the Q, east even has the luxury of playing low!  Alternatively, he could grab the K and return any black card.

If declarer errantly discards a diamond at trick two:

• If east fails to unblock the second club, declarer can arrange to draw trumps, win three heart tricks, finesse once in diamonds, then throw in east with his last club for another diamond lead at trick twelve.