Competition Problem 21
by Hugh Darwen
Hearts are trumps and West leads the ♠Q. North-South to make eight tricks.
Successful solvers: None! Steve Bloom and Wim van der Zijden both got very close though.
North covers the ♠Q and East wins.
A. If East returns a spade, West does best to switch to a club, taken by South. North overtakes the ♦Q and leads a high heart, which East does best to cover. South wins and plays a second heart to North, who advances the ♦A.
1. If East ruffs low, South overruffs and easily makes three more tricks—for example, by ruffing a spade, cashing the ♣K and leading the ♦2 to promote the ♥4.
2. If East ruffs high, South discards a club, wins the trump return with the ♥7 and plays the last trump for a double squeeze with clubs as pivot suit.
3. If East discards a spade, South throws a club and North leads the ♦2. East can make only the ♥8.
4. If East discards a club, South ruffs! North ruffs a spade, cashes the ♣K and leads the ♦2 for a coup en passant as in A.1.
B. If East returns a club to the ♣Q and ♣K, North leads the ♥Q.
1. If East covers, South wins, crosses to North by overtaking the ♦Q and plays the other top diamond, discarding a club unless East ruffs low. In the latter case, South overruffs; otherwise South discards a club and comes to hand on a club. Now a heart to the ♥Q is followed by the ♣10 and declarer must come to two more trump tricks.
2. If East ducks, North exists on a spade to West.
a) If West returns a trump, covered around the table, South scores the ♦Q, ruffs a spade and plays a diamond. East ruffs low but South overruffs and throws East in with a trump, North discarding the diamond winner. East has to lead away from the ♣J.
b) If West returns a club, South wins and overtakes the ♦Q to lead North's other top diamond. If East ruffs low, South overruffs, cashes the ♥A, ruffs a spade and makes the ♥4 en passant again. If East instead ruffs with the ♥8 or discards, South discards a club and the rest is easy.
C. If East returns a diamond, North overtakes the ♦Q. Now several plays succeed. Simplest is to make two heart tricks by leading the ♥Q and then exit in spades. If West returns a club, South wins, ruffs a spade and leads a diamond. If West returns a diamond, North plays the ♦A. In either case, East can make only the ♥8.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
© Hugh Darwen, 2006
Date last modified: 11 March, 2017