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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

Here is a bridge puzzle. You are sitting South. How are you going to make your (exuberantly bid) contract? North dealt and all were vulnerable. This was the bidding:

East’s three club bid must be very weak, given the number of high card points between the North and South hands (see below). North’s response of 5S is Roman key card Blackwood, showing two key cards (in this case the ace and king of the assumed trump suit, spades) and the queen of spades. You bid seven no trump, hoping for a club lead. Unfortunately, West leads the ten of hearts, taking away your only entry to board! When you see dummy you wish you were in the lay down grand slam in diamonds. So how do you make your contract? Decide on your plan before you read on.

Assume you win the first trick in dummy with the jack of hearts and play the top three spades, throwing losing clubs from hand. Then you lead the two of clubs for the marked finesse. You are now in hand and play off your winners but end up losing the fifth heart. Contract down. Can you see the mistake in this play?
The mistake lies in the cards you throw on the three top spades. Instead of throwing three losing clubs, you must throw all three winning diamonds from hand. This allows you to stay on board to cash the seven long diamonds, throwing all the clubs except the ace and all the hearts except the ace and king. Then you cross to hand with the ace of clubs (no finesse necessary) and cash the remaining two high hearts. Note that dummy takes ten tricks (seven diamonds and three top spades), while the much stronger hand takes only three tricks, the ace and king of hearts and the ace of clubs. The full deal is shown below:

I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands—please do contact me at [email protected] Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For information on the Club go to the web site

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Bridge in Paradise