Problem No. 38, 2009


Line

The problem

S Q 9 4 3
H 6 3
D A 5
C Q 10 8 7 5
Lead: D 10   Table
 
 
 
S A K 7
H A Q 2
D K Q J 6
C A K 3

To bid and make 7 notrump must be high on every bridge player's wish list. Here, you have bid so high, and as you can see it is an excellent contract. You win West's opening lead with dummy's ace and continue with the club five, when East discards the heart four. The question is now: Can you claim thirteen tricks? Give reasons for your answer.

Solution

If East hasn't any clubs, the suit provides four tricks with the aid of a finesse, so South has twelve sure tricks. If spades are 3-3, there is thirteen, so South's next move is to test that suit by cashing the ace, king and queen. To make it exciting, one of the defenders has to discard. If East discards again, West in protecting both black suits. Therefore, he will be squeezed automatically when South cashes the heart ace, the club king and the diamond tricks. The ending is:


Sp 9
Hj
Ru
Kl Q 10 8
Sp JTable Sp
Hj Hj K 10
Ru Ru 10 8
Kl J 9 6Kl
Sp
Hj Q 2
Ru J
Kl 3

On the diamond jack, North discards the suit West keeps, and after a club to the ten, dummy is high.
   If East is the one with the spade stopper, it will be a double squeeze instead. Then, South cashes the diamond tricks and the club king, coming down to this position:


Sp 9
Hj 6
Ru
Kl Q 10 8
Sp Table Sp J
Hj ? ? Hj ? ? ?
Ru Ru 10
Kl J 9 6Kl
Sp
Hj A Q 2
Ru J
Kl 3

On the diamond jack, West must part with a heart; otherwise dummy's clubs will take three tricks. North then discards the club eight, and efter a club to the ten and the club queen, it is East's turn to feel the pressure. He must keep the spade jack, so he too has to go down to a singleton heart. If South wants to impress, he can "unblock" the heart queen and win the last trick with the deuce of hearts.
   So South can claim thirteen tricks once East discards to the second trick?
   No. It is possible that East has picked a wrong card, and that he in fact has clubs. If East realizes that before West has followed to the second trick, he may correct his revoke. And if he has jack fourth of clubs, the grand slam may go down.
   So it is too early to claim at trick two. But if South continues with the club king, and East discards again, the slam is 100% sure.
   The deal is published in the book Play These Hands With Me by Terence Reese. He says that he wrote up the deal for The Observer and wondered "When can declarer claim?". Reese's answer was "As soon as East discards to the first club trick:", but as one of his readers told him it wasn't really so...


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