Bridge Puzzles

Augie Boehm

When seeking clues, the bridge player, like the detective, must work backwards. Thankfully, we aren’t required to revisit unpleasant crime scenes (with rare exceptions).

13. Defending notrump, partner has raised your 1♠ opening to 2♠, and you lead the ♠3 and view:

North (Dummy)
♠ Q J 10
♠ 9 8 6 3 2

Dummy’s 10 holds, partner plays the 5 and declarer the 7. What is the spade position?


Declarer has the ♠A 7 and partner the ♠K 5 4. Partner withheld his king to prevent declarer from scoring three spade tricks. Partner encouraged (standard signals) just in case
you held the ace of spades. When you regain the lead, a second round of spades may be productive, but be careful to lead the 9. If you lead low, partner may cover with the king, thinking you have the ace, undoing all the good work. Of course, there is also the inference that South bid notrump, which should clarify the spade position. Nonetheless, careful carding is a great habit.

14. You are West holding:
As a defender, analyze the following sequence:

Opener Responder
1♣ 1
1NT Pass

Assume that 1♣ shows three or more and the 1NT rebid denies a four-card major.

a. What is the minimum number of clubs the opener will hold for this sequence?

b. Assuming that opener would tend to bid 1 with 4-4 in the minors, what are opener’s likeliest distributions?


a. Opener has at least four clubs. Distributions that allow a three-card club suit include at least one four-card major, but opener bypassed the majors on the rebid.

The most likely distributions are: 3=3=3=4, 3=3=2=5, 3=2=3=5 or 2=3=3=5.

15. None vulnerable, you are East defending 4♠ after this auction:

North South
2 2♠
3NT 4♠

The 1NT bid shows 15–17. Partner leads a low heart.

North (Dummy)
♠ A Q 7 5 4
Q 3
8 2
K J 10 4
East (You)
♠ 9 3
J 7 3
♣ Q 9 8 6 5 2

How do you plan the defense?


Win the heart king and immediately return a high club spot, suit preference for hearts (instead of diamonds). Declarer has either two or three clubs for his 1NT opening. If two, why didn’t partner lead his singleton? Begin the club ruff campaign before spending your heart ace re-entry. When partner ruffs the club return and plays a second heart, return your other high club spot, still suit preference.

This defense guarantees the defeat of the contract when partner has a club void, and may lead to a multiple trick set if you’re allowed to overruff the dummy on the third heart. If you cash your second high heart before giving the first club ruff, declarer can make his contract holding:

♠K J x   x x x x   A K x   ♣A x x

by ruffing the third round of hearts with dummy’s ♠Q, drawing trumps in two rounds, and taking the prove club finesse