Competition Problem 42
composed by Steve Bloom
presented for solving in August, 2008
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.
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:
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.
© Hugh Darwen, 2007
Date last modified: 11 March, 2017