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Silvio Sbarigia’s quiz /#6 – The rich merchant

Posted on 01 March 2010

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This is a new Sbarigia’s quiz called ‘The rich merchant’. Make your playing plan. As usual, into few days, we will publish the solution illustred by Silvio. Have fun!


North (dummy):





South (declarer):












All pass

IMPs. Auction:

West leads K


Make your playing plan.


We count 11 tricks and 50% chances to finesse ♣J. In order to find a better plan, we must study the English history, exactly on King Henry VII’s times, reigning 1485-1509. Reading from 2001 Official Encyclopedia, p. 300:

“Cardinal Morton, Chancellor under King Henry VII, habitually extracted money from wealthy London merchants for the royal treasury. His approach was that if the merchants lived ostentatiously, it was obvious that they had sufficient income to spare some for the king. Alternatively, if they lived frugally, they must be saving substantially and could therefore afford to contribute to the king’s coffers. In either case, they were impaled on Morton’s Fork”

Knowing history, the plan becomes easy:

Ruff the lead (don’t win it by Ace, please), play trump, then put under pressure the rich merchant, West: he has the opener’s opulence. Play little club from Kx toward dummy’s Q10x. If West shows his richness – i.e. he draws his Ace – we have established the 12th trick. If he hides it, ducking, the loser club trick will disappear on A. This is the bridge playing manoeuvre called “Morton’s Fork”.

Why must we ruff the lead and do not win it by Ace? It’s because at trick 1st we yet don’t know which loser we’ll discard on A. When the clubs will flow under West’s nose, if he ducks, the A shall carry a club; if he wins the trick, A shall carry a diamond, the other diamond being discarded on the now winning ♣Q.


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Silvio Sbarigia


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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