Competition Problem 22
by Steven Bloom
South is in three
no-trumps. West leads the ♠K.
Successful solvers: Ian Budden, Helge Leonhardsen, Peter Wallrodt, Wim van der Zijden. Steven Bloom is confirmed as the runaway winner of the annual competition for 2006, with Wim van der Zijden in second place and Ian Budden third.
West must have the ♦5.
North plays a high spade. The club suit is a major threat, and the defence must do something to prevent declarer from using the long clubs. If West switches to the ♥K, South simply wins and clears clubs, discarding two hearts from dummy. West cannot make use of the spades, but on a passive diamond exit, declarer plays diamonds from the top, endplaying whoever wins the last diamond.
So, West must continue spades, letting East discard both the ♣Q and ♣J. South wins the third spade in hand and starts on diamonds. The contract is easy if the first or second diamond can be ducked to East, so West puts up a high diamond and East unblocks. South crosses to hand to lead another diamond. Play depends on which winners South scores before leading the second diamond.
A. If South does not make the ♥A, West simply plays low on the diamond, East wins and returns a diamond. With the hearts blocked, the contract has no chance.
B. If South makes the ♥A, but no clubs, West plays another high diamond, and North wins. Declarer cannot exit on a diamond while East still has a club exit. If just one top club is cashed, the other one is stranded; if both are cashed before playing a diamond, East discards the diamond winner.
C. If South makes both clubs and the ♥A, East discards a heart, leaving this ending:
South leads a diamond. West puts up the ♦10 and East unblocks again under North's ♦A. South still has one more good try, discarding the blocking diamond on a heart (the ♥Q or the ♥4). That will land the contract unless West has the ¨5. And that answers the question posed: The contract is defeated whenever West's x is the ♦5.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
© Hugh Darwen, 2007
Date last modified: 03 June, 2019