The Southeast Missourian – 8 Jun 2001

Oliver Goldsmith, In She Stoops to Conquer.» wrote:

Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain,

With grammar, and nonsense and learning:

Good liquor. I stoutly maintain,

Gives genius a better discerning.

Well, the French enjoy their wine, but I doubt a glass or two -or more – would have helped any one to solve this problem from Le Bridgeur magazine some 20 years ago. You are in four spades. West starts with the ace and another diamond. Even looking at all 52 cards, do you see how to get home?

Dealer West; Vulnerable Both

Opening lead: Diamond ace

After three passes, South’s four-spade opening is reasonable. A slam might be missed, of course, but keeping the opponents out of the auction rates to be more profitable in the long run. If you attack trumps immediately, you fail. West takes your king (or lower honor) with his ace, puts East on lead with the heart ace and another diamond promotes the spade eight as the setting trick. If you ruff low, West overruffs. If you ruff high, you have only one honor left and West still has the eight and four. You lose two spades, one heart and one diamond.

The winning play involves a loser-on-loser scissors coup. Yet first you must get into the dummy. And how do you do that? Right — you ruff a club. (If you are a showoff, you’ll ruff the ace.) Then lead a diamond and discard your heart seven. Win whatever comes back (ruffing a heart, if necessary) and lead a top trump. You can draw West’s other trumps without trouble, losing only one spade and two diamonds.