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.

1. You and your partner bid as follows:

You Partner
1 1
1♠ 3♠
4♠ Pass

Your combined club holding is ♣J 4 2 in hand facing ♣Q 8 6 in dummy. The opening lead is a nonclub. What is the likeliest location of the missing club honors?

SOLUTION

Most likely, West holds the ♣A and East the ♣K. Clubs is the one unbid suit, so a club lead is expected. If West had both top honors, or neither, a club lead is natural, absent a
compelling lead in another side suit, such as a singleton. If West holds the ♣K, it is still quite normal to lead the suit: “Don’t lead away from a king” is a discredited notion. Only
the unsupported ♣A should dissuade West from attacking clubs. Once we deduce that the ace is probably with West, it follows that East must hold the king.

2. Sitting East, you witness the following auction:

South North
1NT 2♣
2 3NT
4♠ Pass

West, partner, leads the ♣2, fourth-best, and below is the club position:

North (dummy)
♣ Q 5
East (you)
♣ K 9 7 4

Declarer calls for dummy’s ♣5.
Three questions:
a. What is South’s distribution?
b. Where are the missing club picture cards?
c. What do you play to trick one?

SOLUTION

a. South is 4–4–2–3. South showed 4–4 in the majors responding to Stayman, and partner’s ♣2 lead means declarer started with three clubs, hence two diamonds.

b. South holds the ♣A J x; West wouldn’t underlead an ace against a suit contract, which places the ace with South. If South started with ♣A x x, he would try the ♣Q from dummy at trick one as the only legitimate way to score the queen if the leader holds the king. Therefore, South holds the ♣J as well as the ace.

c. Finesse your ♣9. Playing the king is futile and hands declarer three club tricks. By withholding the king at trick one (and covering the queen if led), the defenders save a club trick when opening leader is considerate enough to supply the ♣10.

3. You are defnding against the following auction:

South North
1 1
1♠ 1NT
Pass

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

How many diamonds is South likely to hold?

SOLUTION

Four or five diamonds. South has shown four spades and at most three hearts. With at least seven minor suit cards, the opening was 1, not 1♣. With 4–3–3–3 distribution, systemically opener would have started with 1♣. If South had six diamonds, he would presumably have rebid 2 over 1NT. Opener’s possible distributions are: 4=3=4=2, 4=2=4=3, 4=1=4=4, 4=2=5=2, 4=1=5=3, 4=3=5=1. (Note that the = symbol means suits are in the order specified. For example, 4–3–3–3 means the four-card suit can be any, but 4=3=3=3 means four spades and three each of the other suits.)