Our ninth problem is 20 years old. Then, I lived in the city of Lund, and one night I played an ordinary pairs tournament with my good friend Gunnar Persson, who among other things holds the Swedish record in longest time between two Swedish tem championship titles (the first time he won was in 1947, the second in 1985 – hard to beat that!).
On one of the deals, Gunnar played a part-score in clubs. When I tabled the dummy, it looked to be high enough, but when the deal was over Gunnar had managed to take eleven tricks after a pretty line of play – and the defense couldn't do anything about it.
I don't recall all details, but I remember that my distribution was 2-5-2-4 (two spades, five hearts, two diamonds and four clubs), while Gunnar had 3-0-3-7 distribution (three spades, no hearts, three diamonds and seven clubs). Furthermore, Gunnar's highest spade was the queen, but neither he nor I had the spade jack nor the heart ten. We had 21 high card points together, but quite a few of them were useless. As a matter of fact, had we only had 12 high card points, 5 clubs would still have made – if the opponents' card had been distributed as favorably as possible.
A final clue: Both defenders had 5-4-3-1 pattern (with any five-card suit).
Now I ask: What did the deal look like, and how do you play to land 5 clubs against any defense?
This is how the real deal looked like:
|K 9 6 5 3|
|9 5 4 2|
|K 9 4 3||J 8 7 2|
|Q J 8 7 4||A 10 2|
|A 9 6||K J 10 4 3|
|Q 6 5|
|8 7 2|
|A K Q J 10 7 3|
West led the club eight, and Gunnar put up dummy's nine. When East followed, he unblocked the seven and ruffed a heart high. Then he exited in diamonds, and when the defenders played two more rounds of the suit (nothing else is better), he ruffed, ruffed another heart high, led the club three to dummy and ruffed a third heart in hand.
When the ace of hearts dropped from East, Gunnar played out his trumps, squeezing West in the majors on the last one:
|K 9||J 8 7 2|
|Q 6 5|
As you notice, the ending is automatic, and the way Gunnar played the hand, there was nothing the defenders could do. But if neither Gunnar nor the dummy has the spade ten, the defenders can lead a spade from the right side, after the first or the second diamond trick. Therefore, the spade ten was essential, and therefore the spade king had to be to Gunnar's left and the spade jack to his right.
If we remove the honors not needed, and place East-West's honors as favorably as possible, the result is this deal, where North-South make 5 clubs against any defense, in spite of their only having 12 high card points.
|J 5 4 3 2|
|A 5 4 2|
|K 9 4 3||J 8 7 2|
|10 9 8 7 6||A K Q|
|A Q 9||K J 10 8 7|
|Q 3 2|
|4 3 2|
|J 10 9 8 7 6 3|
The spade ten kan be in the South hand as well as in dummy, and where the club ace is has no relevence either, as long as there are two entries to dummy within the club suit.
The condition that the defenders have the spade jack means the contract can't be made with a simple finesse, and the condition that they also have the heart ten means you can't establish two heart tricks with three ruffs (dummy can't have jack-ten fifth of hearts). So this is the only possible construction, with the spade suit frozen, and with a major suit squeeze against West in the end.
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