# Puzzle This

North
♠ 6 4 3 2
5 3
A K 5 4 3
♣ 7 3
South
♠ A K
A 10 9
Q 9 8 7
♣ A 6 5 4

Playing IMPs, you (somehow) arrive in 3NT. West leads the ♠Q and East follows. A quick count of available tricks shows two spades, one heart, three diamonds and one club for a total of seven. The diamond suit looks like it will provide a couple of more tricks: When you plunk down the Q, your left-hand opponent drops the jack, and RHO plays the 2.

The problem, if you haven’t already noticed, is that the diamond suit may block. Look at the spot cards. If the suit is 2–2, there’s no problem, but if they’re 3–1 (as LHO’s play of the jack suggests), it seems impossible to untangle the suit for five tricks because there’s no way back to dummy to enjoy the long diamond.

View Solution
Of course you can do something about it! It wouldn’t be a fair puzzle if you couldn’t.

Let’s say this is the full deal:

Dlr:
Vul:
North
♠ 6 4 3 2
5 3
A K 5 4 3
♣ 7 3
West
♠ Q J 10 9 8
K J 4 2
J
♣ Q 9 8
East
♠ 7 5
Q 8 7 6
10 6 2
♣ K J 10 2
South
♠ A K
A 10 9
Q 9 8 7
♣ A 6 5 4

West leads the ♠Q, both following. You win and play the Q, LHO playing an ominous-looking jack. The suit looks like it may well block, so you have to get rid of a diamond in your hand. How? By playing the ♠K! Next, cross to dummy with a diamond and play another spade, unblocking a diamond from your hand. Yes, West can cash three spades, but so what? You will win the exit and finish running the diamond suit.

Notice this line works even if West started with six spades.

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