Challenge #18 (S523c)
From Part III - "Problem Hands", page 255
From the book Winning Declarer Play
South dealer. Both Vulnerable
SOUTH WEST NORTH
Opening lead: Heart queen
West leads the heart queen against your contract of three no-trump. East plays the king, and you let him hold the first trick. East returns the heart eight to your ace as West follows with the seven. You now cash the ace and king of diamonds. Both opponents follow the first round, but West discards a spade on the second round, revealing that East started with J 10 3 of diamonds.
All right. Your problem is to be sure of taking nine tricks regardless of how the rest of the cards are divided or how the opponents defend.
Warning! This is not a misprint. If you don't see the problem, look again. On this hand most players don't see the problem until it is too late.
Answer: When the diamonds break 3-1, most players breezily assume they have nine cold tricks: five diamonds, one spade, one heart, and two clubs. So they cash the A K Q of idamonds and then the awful truth hits them. The fourth round of diamonds has to be won in declarer's hand, and there is no way to return to dummy to cash the fufth diamond.
Here's the complete hand:
The diamond suit contains what is called an internal block. Although you have five diamond tricks, you can't cash them.
If you cash the A K Q of diamonds after winning the heart ace, you can no longer make three no-trump. Whatever you do, West will eventually get in with his spade king and defeat you with three more heart tricks.
What can be done about this diamond block? You instinctively realize that your fourth diamond is a terrible nuisance to you. If you could tear it up into little pieces and throw it away you could happily run five diamond tricks and make the contract.
There's a story of a player in a somewhat similar position who actually ate a card that was in his way. He slipped it inside his ham sandwich when no one was looking. This solution is a bit drastic. In the first place it's unethical. In the second place you probably wouldn't get away with it. And in the third place it would surely lead to indigestion.
Fortunately there is an easier solution.
After cashing the ace and king of diamonds and discovering the 3-1 break,
lead a heart from the dummy and throw one of your two remaining diamonds
on it. West can't have enough hearts left to set you, and when you
regain the lead, the diamond suit will no longer be blocked, so you will
peacefully run nine tricks.
This is one example from Dorthy
Truscott's book "Winning Declarer Play."