Competition Problem 32
South to make five diamonds. West leads (a) the ♥ K, (b) the ♠Q.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Vincent Labbé, Andy Prothero, Rajeswar Tewari, Wim van der Zijden
North's ♣5 and South's ♦4 are both key cards. The tenth trick comes from either a club ruff in the South hand or a heart ruff and a spade ruff (with the ♦A) in North. On a heart lead the eleventh trick comes from a black suit squeeze against West. The play is much more difficult on a spade lead. Declarer aims for three ruffs in North by employing the technique known as ruff transfer—a heart is discarded on a losing spade so that North threatens to get two heart ruffs as well as a high spade ruff. East can counter that threat by discarding hearts, but that sets up a rare kind of squeeze in hearts and clubs against West.
(a) The ♥K is allowed to hold. Declarer will now get home by contriving a black suit squeeze against West. West does best to switch to a low spade taken by North, who leads the ♦7, covered by East's ♦8 and South's ♦J, West discarding a spade. South leads a club. If West rises with the ♣Q it is allowed to hold and the contract is easily made by setting up North's ♣J; so West plays low and the ♣J forces East's ♣K.
A. If East returns a club to North's ♣A, South ruffs a club, and cashes the red suit winners. North ruffs a heart and draws the last trump with the ♦A, squeezing West in the black suits.
B. If East returns a spade, South wins and ruffs a third spade with the ♦A. The ♦6 is covered by East and South, who plays ♥A and another heart, North ruffing high. South now draws trumps by finessing the ♦4, squeezing West in the black suits.
C. If East returns a red suit, either of the above lines can be played.
(b) North takes the first trick with the ♠A and leads the ♦7, covered by East's ♦8 and South's ♦J. South plays ♠K and another spade, North and East discarding hearts.
A. If West returns a heart, South wins and leads a club, North covering West's card and following with the ♣J if that card is still held. East thus wins the first or second round of clubs with the ♣K and now, whatever East returns, declarer makes the rest on a cross-ruff.
B. If West returns a club, North covers West's card and the play is essentially the same as in A.
C. If West returns a spade, North ruffs with the ♦A and East, unable profitably to underruff, is squeezed.
1. If East discards a club, the ♥A and a heart ruffed high are followed by the ♦2 (not the ♦5, which East would duck!) to ♦9 and ♦Q. North ruffs another heart and cashes the ♣A (if it is still held—it could have been cashed earlier). South's last two cards are the ♦K-4 sitting over East's ♦10-3, and South is not on lead.
2. If East discards a heart, North leads a high diamond, covered by East and South. The ♥A and a heart ruffed high are followed by a finesse of the ♦4 and the last trump, squeezing West. If West's last three cards are all clubs, South's last heart is good; otherwise South leads a club. If West plays low, North's ♣J loses to the ♣K and the ♣A-5 take the last two tricks; otherwise the ♣A captures the ♣Q and the ♣J loses to the ♣K, pinning the ♣10 so that the ♣5 takes the last trick.
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