Competition Problem 5
by Ian Budden
South to make five no-trumps. West leads the ♠K.
Successful solvers: Robin Adey, Bob Bignall, Jean-Marc Bihl, Steven Bloom, Clint Fyke, Jean-Marie Maréchal, Andrew Prothero, Cheung Simon, Daniël de Lind van Wijngaarden, Eric Zhang, Wim van der Zijden.
Not everybody noted the need to win the first diamond, to lead specifically the ♣Q (and not the ♣9, on which West would play either low or the ♣K), and to cater for West keeping a high and a low diamond in the ending.
Declarer ducks the opening spade lead (otherwise, the spades or hearts cannot be set up without losing the lead and a diamond return defeats the contract.)
A low club or heart continuation presents no problem, as declarer has time to cash queen and jack of spades and then set up a heart or, in the case of a low club return, simply to win with the queen and cash out. Best defence is to lead the ♣K or a diamond.
A. On the lead of the ♣K, north wins with the ace, and south unblocks the ♣Q. Declarer then takes a heart finesse, cashes the ♠Q-J (and, optionally, one or both top hearts) and ducks a heart. Whatever the defence returns, declarer can take the rest.
B. On the lead of a diamond, South wins, cashes the ♠Q-J, then leads the ♣Q (not the ♣9!), covered by West and North (East unblocking a high club) and cashes the last two spades, discarding a diamond (or a heart) and then (unless East throws a heart) a heart (or a diamond—to be precise, on the two spades declarer can discard one of each red suit or, unless East throws a club, two diamonds). Declarer finesses the ♥9 and then cashes the ♥A. [Note that if South ducks the diamond return at trick two, the defence must continue with a club; if instead they continue with a red suit, declarer wins and makes the contract by playing the spades and club as above, followed by three red suit winners, to effect a non-simultaneous double squeeze.]
East must retain two hearts and either two clubs or a diamond and a club.
1. East has kept two hearts and two clubs. West must keep two top diamonds, else South can cash the king of hearts, throwing a club from North, and lead a diamond to set up the nine. North throws a diamond on the ace of hearts. South then leads the nine of clubs. If West covers, North wins and ducks a club to East for a heart lead (it does not help East to unblock again as this promotes North’s small clubs). If West ducks, so does North, and South then plays king and another heart to force East to lead to North’s club. [If North throws a club rather than a diamond on the ace of hearts, the defence can prevail as West will cover the nine of clubs and East can unblock under both clubs, leaving North on lead with two diamond losers.]
2. East has kept two hearts with the jack of diamonds and a club. West must now retain at least two clubs.
(a) West comes down to one diamond, or two diamonds including only one honour. North throws a club on the ace of hearts. South then leads a club, North covering only if West does. Declarer then ducks a diamond. Whichever defender wins will have to concede two tricks. [If South’s club wins the tenth trick, South must not cash the king of hearts, as West will throw his top diamond, leaving declarer with two losers. Similarly, if North’s club wins, North must not cash the good club, as East will throw his diamond.]
(b) West comes down to two diamond honours. Declarer can either throw a club from North on the ace of hearts and continue with the king of hearts, strip-squeezing West, or throw a diamond from North and continue with a club (on which West must play low) and the king of hearts. This forces a diamond from West, who is then thrown in with his last diamond to lead a club.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
© Hugh Darwen, 2001
Date last modified: 03 June, 2019