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Bridge

Bridge

21 June 2014

8:00 AM

21 June 2014

8:00 AM

It takes a lot for me to give up on a ‘double-dummy’ bridge problem — i.e. one in which you are shown all four hands and told game or slam is possible but have to work out how. I tell myself to imagine that I’m locked in a cell and won’t be released until I get the answer: surely if I think long and hard enough, it will come to me.

But solving bridge puzzles is not just a matter of thought power. Equally important is whether or not you’ve seen the type of problem involved before. It’s rather like trying to solve a cryptic crossword puzzle: even the most intelligent person won’t know how to go about it if they’re unfamiliar with the way cryptic clues work.

I was thinking about this the other day when a friend showed me the following puzzle. You may have seen a variant of it before, but if you haven’t, I imagine you’ll be well and truly stumped. The solution is spectacular and, by the way, there’s a clue in its title: The Heartbreaker.


South is in 6NT. West leads the ♣K.

The diamond finesse will establish all of South’s diamonds, but after the lead, how can declarer get back to his hand to cash them?

The solution is as follows: win the ♣A. Next — and this is the ‘heartbreaking’ bit — cash ♠A-K-Q-J discarding A-K-Q-J! Now play a diamond to the Q, cash the A and play the 2.

What can East do? If he wins with the 10, then he has to give the lead back to South, all of whose cards are winners. If he ducks the heart, South wins the 9 and cashes his diamonds, losing just one heart at the end.

If you worked that out (without having seem a similar problem before), I take my hat off to you. Me? I’m afraid I begged for an early release from my cell.


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