Can It Be Done?

Bob Jones

Dlr: East ♠ 8 7 4
Vul: None A K J
A Q 4 3
♣ A Q 8
♠ Q J 10 ♠ 3
10 8 6 3   9 7 4
9 7   K J 10 6 5 2
♣ K 9 4 3 ♣ 10 7 2
♠ A K 9 6 5 2
Q 5 2
♣ J 6 5
West North East South
3 Pass
Pass 3NT Pass 4♠
All Pass

Opening lead: 9

Today’s deal was played at rubber bridge, where overtricks are not very important. South won the opening diamond lead with dummy’s ace and played the ♠AK. He cashed three rounds of hearts, ending in dummy, and ruffed a diamond. South led a spade to West, hoping that West would have to lead a club. West, however, exited safely with his remaining heart and declarer eventually gave the defense a club trick, making five.

There was a long discussion after the hand about whether it was possible to take 12 tricks. It can be done!

South should ruff a diamond at trick two, cash the ♠AK, and then three rounds of hearts ending in dummy. At this point, declarer can ruff another diamond. West cannot over-ruff because dummy still has a trump remaining, and he would have had to yield a ruff-sluff or lead a club away from the king of clubs. West is forced, therefore, to discard a club in order to keep his heart as a safe exit card.

South can now lead a club to dummy’s queen for a successful finesse, and then ruff dummy’s last diamond. West has no answer to this. Should he over-ruff, he would have to choose between leading a club or yielding a ruff-sluff. A club discard instead would leave his king unprotected, and a heart discard would subject him to an endplay with the ♠Q. A lovely hand!