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Sbarigia’s quiz # 11 – The harp of Arturo Toscanini

Posted on 23 April 2010

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Today  Silvio Sbarigia suggests a new quiz.  As usual, we’ll show the solution into few days. In the meanwhile have fun and mind the title…By the way, do you know the  Toscanini’s harp story? Well, Toscanini was directing the last trial of a concerto when….


Silvio Sbarigia’s quiz 11th: “The harp of Arturo Toscanini”.

North (dummy): ♠K109765 872 KJ75 ♣Void

South (declarer): ♠AQJ84 A64 A82 ♣92

South West North East
1♠ 4♣ 4♠ 5♣
Double Pass 5♠  





Contract: 5♠. West leads ♣K.

Make your playing plan.







Arturo Toscanini, the great orchestra conductor, was directing the last trial of a concerto when the harpist mistook a note: it wouldn’t be a great a great mishap , but in that concerto there was only one note by the harp. The day after, at the premiere, Toscanini removed the strings from the harp but the one that should have been pinched.


By the auction we know that West held an eighth club suit; our plan needs he hasn’t more than four cards in the red suits (but the 4-1 and 1-4 work as well). Ruff the lead and play spade toward the ace: the break is 1-1, well; so we can avoid the bothersome diamond finesse. Ruff the second club, then play low heart and duck; the opponent that wins the trick will play heart again – if the winner is West, he can play a diamond that we’ll take by ace. Now, if the heart break were 6-1 or 5-2, East being of course the longer side, we could throw in East by the third heart, so forcing him to lead diamond, for automatic finesse, or club/heart for ruff and sluff.


This nice plan, however, cannot work if West had started with three hearts: in this case, he’s able to get the third heart and sure he’ll place a diamond on the table, crashing the frail K-J frame. If we want the harp emits the sound that we want, we must remove also the penultimate string: before the third heart, draw the diamond’s ace! Now the harpist, West, can play only the C note.







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SILVIO SBARIGIA is a pharmacist; he was born in Rome and lives there. He has won the European championship in 1975 with legendary Blue Team, runner up at 1974’s and at Olympic games of 1976.  Sbarigia is member of Neapolitan Club Technical Commettee. His bridge problems aren’t difficult; just we need to think on a plan and to avoid the instinctive playing. Bridge quizzes by Sbarigia »

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