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Bridge Puzzles


Augie Boehm

One important aspect of being a good bidder is being a good card player. After an informative auction, visualize the partnership hands and ask yourself, “How will it play?” before selecting a final contract.

26. At IMPs, you are South holding:
♠ A K 10 9 6 5 2   A K 4   K 8   ♣ J.

North opens 3NT, which in your partnership describes a long, solid minor with no outside ace or king. East passes; what’s your call?

SOLUTION

Bid 6♣, the safest slam. On distributional hands, it’s much more worthwhile to think in terms of tricks, not points. Let’s predict the play in 6􀀇. Say the opponents lead a heart. Your plan is to draw trumps and establish spades by ruffing, if necessary. Then, re-enter the South hand with a high heart and run the remaining spades. In all probability, you will win 13 tricks. Facing a typical hand such as:
♠ 7 4   5 3   6 3   ♣ A K Q 10 6 4 3.
the diamond losers disappear on the spades. If opener has a singleton spade or void, it is better to begin spades if hearts are led, saving the ♣J entry in case two ruffs are needed to establish spades. Two main points in the auction: protect your diamond holding from being attacked on the opening lead, and play slam in clubs in case the spades are not solid. Notice that if you pass the gambling 3NT, a gamble of your own, a diamond lead through your king may set 3NT when 6♣ is on ice.

27. At matchpoints, you are South declaring 2 on this layout:.

North (Dummy)
♠ 10 6 2
A 5 2
A K J 5
♣ 9 7 4
♠ Q J 5
K J 9 3
Q 10 4
♣ 10 6 5
West North East South
Pass 1 Dbl 1
2♣ Dbl(1) Pass 2
All Pass

(1) Support double showing three hearts.

At IMPs, South would probably rebid 2, but chooses 2 because it’s matchpoints..

West leads the ♠A (ace from A–K).

Questions:

  1. What is the likeliest distribution of the East–West hands?
  2. Where are the missing high-card points?
  3. How will you play the trump suit?
SOLUTION

West, the opening leader, is likely to hold 3=2=4=4 distribution, leaving East, the doubler, with 4=4=2=3. West’s 2♣ response suggests the club division and denies four spades. If West held five clubs, at least Q-J high, he might have competed over 2. The red suit distribution can be inferred from East’s takeout double, implying diamond shortness. If the spade lead proves to be from A–x, East’s distribution must be revised to 5=4=1=3 or possibly 5=4=2=2.

Placing the HCP: From the lead, West probably has the ♠A–K. If so, to justify the takeout double, East rates to hold ♣A K Q or A K J and the Q. In all our distributional assessments, East holds four hearts. The percentage play in trumps is to start with the A, then take a deep finesse of your 9, playing East for Q 10 x x. If all goes well, cross to dummy in diamonds to finesse your J, pick up the trumps and score the diamonds. The defense can be held to two spade tricks and three clubs and your matchpoint 2 call is rewarded. The deep heart finesse also saves a trick if East started with Q 10 x x x (4=5=1=3). Both 2 and 2 are doomed on 5–1 trump splits.