Bridge Puzzles


Augie Boehm

Bridge is primarily a game of language and logic. Of course, judgment and empathy play large roles, as does luck, at least in the short term. These puzzles feature language and logic. The idea is to deduce a significant amount of information from the bidding and opening lead.

4. You are South:

West North East South
1 2♠ Dbl
Pass 2NT Pass ?

a. How many diamonds does North hold?
b. As South, you hold:
♠7   10 8 4 3 2   A K 8 4   ♣J 7 6.
What’s your call?

SOLUTION

a. North holds four or five diamonds. North has at most three hearts — no 3 response to your negative double. The greatest major suit length
North can have is 4–3, and with 4–3–3–3 North usually opens 1♣.

b. Bid 3, non-forcing. In general, whenever you take partner out of a notrump partial into his first suit, it should be a correction of contract.

5. You are East:

North South
1NT
3NT Pass

Partner’s opening lead is the 4.

North
Q 3
West
4
East (you)
K 10 8 5 2

Declarer plays dummy’s 3
a. Can you locate the missing heart honors?
b. What do play to trick one?

SOLUTION

a. South holds either the A J, or the J x, but not A x. With A x, declarer would have tried dummy’s queen at trick one. If declarer has no heart honors, he would also try the queen, hoping the lead was away from A–K.

b. Play the K, catering to declarer’s J x. If declarer holds both high hearts, it probably doesn’t matter which heart you play, unless it is a specific situation where the defense must prevent the Q from becoming a late entry.

6. You are SOuth

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

A relevant question is what N–S tend to open holding 3–3 in the minors — they answer 1♣.

East opens 1NT (15–17 high-card points), you overcall 2♠, and all pass. West leads the J. You win your ace and cash a high spade, collecting
the 4 and 5, cross to the K and lead a second spade. South follows with the 10.
a. What questions should you be asking?
b. Do you finesse or play for the drop?

SOLUTION

a. Find out if the opponents are using negative doubles at the two-level. While you’re at it, see if they are playing lebensohl or a similar convention that allows them to compete at the three-level without forcing to game.

b. If they are using negative doubles, play for the drop. The reasoning: their side has 24 HCP, giving West at least 7. Why didn’t West compete? If he had a singleton spade, he would presumably double with four hearts or compete in a long minor. A spade holding of Q–x, however, would discourage competition.

If they are using penalty doubles, the decision is closer. West may have been prevented from competing if his distribution is 1=4=4=4. Because he would likely have bid with any other distribution and a singleton spade, the finesse still seems like the percentage play.