Bridge Puzzles

Augie Boehm

Logical thinking is the hallmark of the strong player. Virtually every bid or played card tells a tale, although sometimes the tale is too murky to be of much help. For instance, suppose
partner deals and passes. Partner’s strength is limited to 0–11 (or 12) points, depending on your opening bid style. Further, partner has excluded certain kinds of long-suited hands because of the failure to preempt. Not much to go on, but it’s a start. After a few rounds of bidding that provide details, a much clearer picture of the deal should emerge. Try to focus your attention.

In the card play, the inferences tend to be crisper. The first few tricks are particularly apt to contain potentially useful clues. It’s a good time to be alert.

7. The opponents have the following auction:

South North
1NT 2

You are West. Playing fourth-best, partner (East) leads the 2. Dummy (North) shows four diamonds and you have a doubleton diamond. What distributions can opener hold?


Given the likelihood that partner holds four diamonds, declarer holds three. Declarer’s distribution is either 5=4=3=1, 5=5=3=0 or 6=4=3=0.


Q 5 4
West (you)
J 8 3 2

You are defending a notrump contract and lead the heart deuce, partner’s secondarily-bid suit. Dummy plays low, partner the 10, and declarer the king. Where are the missing hearts?


Partner’s hearts are the A–10–7–6, leaving declarer with K–9. From the bidding, partner presumably holds four hearts (secondary suit) and declarer two. Partner’s play of the 10 denies the 9 — third hand follows with the lowest of equals. Thus, declarer’s hearts must be K–9. If you get the lead, the continuation of the J will do wonders.

9. Consider this deal:

North (Dummy)
♠ K 10 5
6 5 3
9 2
♣ A J 10 9 3
South (You)
♠ A J 9 8 3
J 8 2
A 8 6
♣ K Q
West North East South
1 Pass Pass 1♠
Pass 2♠ Pass 2NT
Pass 3♣ Pass 4♠
All Pass

The opening lead is the ♣7. Who will you finesse for the vital ♠Q?


West has the ♠Q and not just because he opened the bidding. The opponents hold 17 high-card points. East’s first round pass limits his hand to about 5. So far, it is possible for
the weak hand to hold the ♠Q. But look further by considering the opening lead. Why the ♣7? A singleton is hardly an attractive lead when partner is marked with a very weak hand and the low probability of an entry to obtain a ruff.

The key inference is that opening leader (West) doesn’t have an attractive honor-sequence lead, which places the K with East. If West held A K x (x), he might have started with a high heart. Similarly, if West held K Q J x (x), the opening lead would be the K. Thus, East holds at least the J. Once we mark East with the K and J, there is no room for the ♠Q. Elementary, my dear Watson.

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