Double Dummy Corner

Competition Problem 29

composed by Steve Bloom
presented for solving in July, 2007

 DR8 ♠ QJ76 ♥ AJ432 ♦ A ♣ A76 ♠ AK98 ♥ K5 ♦ Q10983 ♣ K2 ♠ none ♥ Q109876 ♦ 765 ♣ J1098 ♠ 105432 ♥ none ♦ KJ42 ♣ Q543

How does South make four spades against the lead of any king?
What lead would defeat the contract?

Successful solvers:  Mike Gallagher, Wim van der Zijden.

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Solution

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.

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