Competition Problem 29
by Steve Bloom
How does South make four
spades against the lead of any king?
Successful solvers: Mike Gallagher, Wim van der Zijden.
Assuming that the lead is the ♠K, best defence, as we shall see, is for West to switch to a minor suit at trick 2.
A. If West switches to a middle diamond to North's ♦A, South ruffs a heart and leads a trump. If West plays low North wins and leads a second low heart for South to ruff. Several plays now succeed. So West does better to win the second trump and lead a third. East by now has been squeezed and does best to keep three hearts, a diamond, and four clubs. South throws a club on North's ♥A and ruffs a heart with the ♠10. West does best to discard a middle diamond. North is entered on the ♣A to draw the last trump. West is now down to three diamonds and a club. If the club is the ♣K, then a club ducked in both hands endplays West into giving South the last three tricks with the ♦K-J and the ♣A. If, instead, West has played the ♣K under North's ♣A, then South comes to hand on the ♣Q and leads the ♦J if West still has the ♦3, otherwise the ♦4. In either case West has to win and lead into South's diamond tenace (♦A-4 or ♦A-J).
B. If West switches to the ♣K, declarer can play as in A by ruffing a heart at trick 2 but has alternative lines. For example North can cash the ♦A and lead a club to South's ♣Q. Now the ♦K, North throwing the club loser, and a diamond ruff are followed by a heart ruff, a club ruff and the ♥A. Whether West is down to three trumps or two trumps and a diamond, South must score the ♠10.
C. If West switches to the ♣2, South wins with the ♣Q and leads either a trump or a diamond—it comes to the same thing in either case but we will assume a diamond. Now South ruffs a heart and leads a trump. West wins and returns a spade or a club. In either case, South gets another heart ruff, cashes the ♦K, and crosses to North on a black suit to draw the last trump. East keeps two hearts and a club but is thrown in on the club.
If West continues trumps instead of switching at trick 2, East does best to discard two hearts and a diamond, but now line A is easily reached.
If West leads the ♣K at trick 1, declarer can get home by following the play described in line B and this time there is no alternative. A slight difference from line B is that North must not score the ♥A (the card can be led but in that case South must ruff it). In the five-card ending with West holding four trumps and a diamond, South leads a club to guarantee two more trump tricks from ♠Q-J opposite ♠10-5-4.
If West leads a diamond at trick 1, South ruffs a heart at trick 2 and leads a trump. Play reverts to line A.
If West leads a heart at trick 1, South ruffs and leads a trump. West does best to win and lead a diamond. South ruffs another heart, plays a club to the ♣K (best) and ♣A and ruffs a third heart with the ♠10. West does best to discard a diamond, in which case South cashes the ♣Q and leads a trump, West playing low. North wins and leads the ♥A. If West discards, North follows with the ♠Q (not the ♠7, or West will win with the ♠A and exit safely in spades) to endplay West in diamonds. If West ruffs low the endplay is immediate. Finally, if West ruffs high and returns the ♠9, it is allowed to hold.
If West leads a low trump at trick 1, North wins the trick and South ruffs a heart. Now there are several routes to success, each involving two more heart ruffs. For example, a diamond to North at trick 3, a heart ruff, diamond ruff and a third heart ruff with the ♠10 squeezes West. On a diamond discard South plays ♦K and another diamond, North ruff. West is down to three trumps and ♣K-2 and will have to lead away from the ♣K.
But if West leads the ♣2 at trick 1, there is no play for the contract.
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: 11 March, 2017