Trying to compose problems for a class to illustrate passive defense, I ran across this hand:
S: K84
H: K75
D: QJ62
C: A93
S: 93
H: J963
D: 985
C: 7652
S: 752
H: AQ8
D: A1074
C: QJ8
S: AQJ106
H: 1042
D: K3
C: K104
West leads the H:3, dummy plays low and East wins with the Queen. The idea of the hand was to show that because dummy was balanced and did not have any discard threats, a trump return is best, giving nothing away. As the cards lie, a diamond will work fine, too, but declarer could have K9 or K9x, so a trump shift is best. Unfortunately, it will not set the contract. Declarer starts with nine tricks: five trumps, two diamonds, and two clubs, and it would appear that he cannot generate another. Look at the effect of declarer's cashing four rounds of trumps, though. Declarer pitches a club from dummy, and East is pickled. A club or a diamond just gives away a trick, and a heart would allow declarer to play a low heart from both hands, setting up the King for his tenth trick. A minus-two triple squeeze without the count for one trick. Pretty.

To fix that, I swapped the C:J and C:7. Now East does not feel the pressure until after dummy has to break up a menace. It is still not good enough. Declarer draws trump and plays D:K, D:Q. East must win and continue diamonds. Declarer can pitch a heart on the D:J, and then continue with a fourth round of diamonds, pitching his last heart, endplaying East, who will have to give away a club trick or a heart trick. It is still cold, not a good example of a defensive problem.

Next, I swapped the H:6 and D:4, producing a hand where the trump switch might actually beat the hand. But what if declarer cashes two rounds of trumps and plays two rounds of diamonds? East must win and exit diamonds or trumps. Either way, what does West now pitch on the fifth trump? He has pitched clubs on the third and fourth trumps, but on the fifth, he is guard squeezed in this position:

S: ---
H: K7
D: Q6
C: A9
S: ---
H: J9
D: 94
C: J6
S: ---
H: A8
D: 10
C: Q87
S: 6
H: 104
D: ---
C: K104
A heart allows declarer to pitch a diamond from dummy and set up the H:10. A club causes the C:J to drop under the Ace, allowing a finesse of the ten for a trick. A diamond, of course, sets up the dummy's diamonds. Rats, still not good enough. It looks like I shall have to weaken declarer's hand, giving East the H:10, rather than the 8.

I am still not sure that this will do, but it just goes to show how hard it is to make bridge problems cleverproof. It also shows that two balanced hands should bid 3NT.

Copyright © 1992 Jeff Goldsmith