Double Dummy Corner

Competition Problem 42

composed by Steve Bloom

presented for solving in August, 2008

 DR6 ♠ none ♥ 96543 ♦ AQ432 ♣ A42 ♠ A8 ♥ AK87 ♦ J1098 ♣ J97 ♠ QJ1076 ♥ none ♦ K765 ♣ Q865 ♠ K95432 ♥ QJ102 ♦ none ♣ K103

South to make three hearts. West leads the K.

Successful solvers:  Ian Budden, Bu Feiming, Rajeswar Tewari, Wim van der Zijden, none of whom demanded a DR higher than 6.

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Solution

Because of the threatened cross-ruff, West does best to start with the A and K, on which East should discard two clubs.

A.      If West leads a third trump to South's Q, East does best to discard a third club, baring the Q.  South must now advance 9, North discarding a diamond unless West rises with the A.  Best is for East to win and return a club, in which case South drops the 10 and North's A wins.  After a diamond ruff and a spade ruff, North draws the last trump, East discarding a diamond, South a spade.

Here is the 5-card end position, with South on lead:

 ♠ none ♥ none ♦ AQ4 ♣ 42 ♠ none ♥ none ♦ J109 ♣ J9 ♠ QJ10 ♥ none ♦ K7 ♣ none ♠ K95 ♥ none ♦ none ♣ K3

Now a rather unusual variation on the "stepping-stone" theme arises.  North plays the 2 to South's K.  East discards a diamond on this trick, baring the K to avoid the obvious throw-in in spades; but now North's diamond loser goes on the K and a club to West provides a stepping-stone to North's two diamond winners.  Note the importance of North's 4 in this line: if South's last club were higher than North's, West could jettison the J on South's K, leaving South with two spade losers.

If West rises with the A at trick 4, North ruffs and can now lead any diamond.  Simplest is to lead a low one for South to ruff, and now declarer has options, one being to cash the K and lead the 10 to revert to the above line (with the loss of an extra trick in the endgame).

If East discards a spade on the third trump, South must again run the 9.  The subsequent play can be as above but alternative lines are possible because East no longer has the chance to bare the K in the endgame.

If East discards a diamond on the third trump, South can either run the 9, as above, or ruff a spade, ruff a diamond, and lose a spade to West's A, North discarding a diamond.  In the latter case West returns a club and South drops the 10 under North's A.  East discards the Q on the J, giving the above 5-card ending.

B.      If West shifts to a club at trick 3, South captures East's Q and now has a split tenace in clubs against West.  Declarer cross-ruffs two spades and two diamonds, one of these being North's Q, covered by East.  The K is ruffed and overruffed.  At some time during this sequence North's A is cashed and now West is thrown in with a diamond to lead away from the J.

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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