Bridge Puzzles

With the great number of Alerts in today’s game, some are looking for ways to reduce their incidence, but a bridge player should be constantly on alert. Alertness is a bridge state of
mind. Try the next puzzles to see if your sensors are wide open.

18. Both vulnerable, you (East) hold:

♠A K Q J 9   7 6 2   10 9 3   ♣J 4

The auction develops:

WEst North East South
Pass 1♠ Pass 1NT
Pass 2♣(1) Pass 2♠
Pass 3NT ?

(1) Checkback Stayman, asking for four hearts or three spades.

You decided that you were too weak to overcall 2♠ (natural) at your first turn. Has your hour arrived?


Pass. If you double, Mr. Lightner might be honored that you applied his priceless convention, but where in his hand will partner find a spade? Analyze the opponents’ auction. North used checkback in search of a major-suit fit; typically, he has five spades or 5–4 in the majors. South showed three-card spade support and North proposed notrump, which South accepted. The spades must be divided 5–3 between North–South. It is understandable, looking at your spades, that North–South shied from the fit, each evidently holding a balanced opening bid. In any event, don’t double — the soonest you can receive a spade lead from partner will be the next deal.

19. None vulnerable, matchpoints, you (South) hold:

♠10 7   K J 2   7 6 4   ♣A J 5 3 2

The auction:

West North East South
Pass Pass
1♠ Pass 2♠ Pass
Pass Dbl Pass 3♣
All Pass

West tables the 4, playing fourth-best leads. Dummy reveals:

♠ J 6 5
A 8 3
A 8 5 3
♣ K 7 6
♠ 10 7
K J 2
7 6 4
♣ A J 5 3 2

You duck in dummy and East plays the Q. Who holds the ♣Q?


West, the opening leader, holds the ♣Q, so plan to cash the ♣A K and hope she drops doubleton. The inferences begin with the opening lead. West has led his lowest heart when he and partner bid and raised spades — why? West doesn’t have a singleton because East, holding Q 10 9 7 6 5, would have competed with 3 at some juncture. Therefore, West led from rags, probably because he wished to avoid breaking spades.

West must hold the ♠A, which gives East the ♠K (no spade lead). Apply this reasoning to diamonds. If West held an honor sequence headed by the K–Q, he likely would have preferred a high diamond to a heart. Thus, West’s best diamond holding is headed by K–J. Counting high-card points, if West’s best spades are A–Q and his best diamonds K–J, doesn’t he rate to hold the ♣Q? If West is 5–4 in the majors, as it seems, there is a fair chance that his ♣Q will come down in two leads. In any case, it’s a better chance than a doomed finesse.