Competition Problem 43
composed by Vincent Labbé
presented for solving in September, 2008
South to make four spades against any lead by West.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Ian Budden, Lu Wu Ping, Rajeswar Tewari, Wim van der Zijden
This problem is truly remarkable for its variety of endings, as several solvers have commented. In the solution that follows you will encounter elements of stepping-stone, seesaw (entry-shift), and backwash, not to mention a rather unusual throw-in (see A.1(b) below).
To create any real problem the defence must play at least two rounds of trumps, cutting down the diamond ruffs in the short trump hand. Although this can be done by starting with a small trump, West does better to play ♠A and another spade right away (I have accepted solutions that overlook this very small point). Now, as we shall see, there are interesting problems to be solved even when the defence declines the opportunity to play a third round of trumps. North plays high on the ♠A and covers the second spade as cheaply as possible, South winning the trick as cheaply as possible to play clubs. When West ducks the first club (best), North must discard a heart. The second club is covered and ruffed high and North leads a low diamond.
A. If East discarded a heart at trick 2, West wins (best) with the ♦K. (If East wins it and plays a heart, see Line B.)
1. If West now plays a third spade, North plays low and East, who clearly cannot discard a club, is squeezed in this position:
(a) If East discards the ¨6, South plays low, ruffs a diamond and plays the remaining clubs.
(i) ¨A, North discards two more hearts and ruffs the last club, which squeezes West. If West keeps two hearts and a diamond, North gives up a diamond and makes the ♥A and the long diamond. If West keeps a heart and two diamonds, North cashes the ♥A and exits on a diamond, making East a stepping-stone to South's good heart.
(ii) If East has played the ¨A, North discards (in either order) a heart and a diamond and West discards from the suit first discarded by North. The last club, ruffed by North, reduces West to ♥KJ and the ¨J, so North exits on the ¨10 to get two heart tricks.
(b) If East discards a heart, South overtakes with the ♠7 and plays the remaining clubs. Anticipating that West's first discard will be the ¨9 (!), North discards two diamonds. When the last club is ruffed, West is forced down to three hearts and a diamond (otherwise declarer just sets up the ♥Q). East rises with the ¨A when North leads the ¨10, but South ruffs and leads the ♥Q, pinning East's last heart. Now the ♥7 becomes significant. West is left on play with the ♥K and has to lead into the split tenace.
2. If West leads a diamond, South ruffs and cashes a club, North discarding a diamond, to give this position:
South leads the ♣8! West does best to discard a diamond and North ruffs. Now South ruffs the diamond and leads the ♣K. West ruffs but is allowed to win the trick to lead into the split tenace.
B. If East discarded a diamond at trick 2, best defence is for East to win the first diamond and attack hearts. The ♥10 is allowed to hold but East continues the suit, North winning with the ♥A. South ruffs a diamond with the ♠3 and cashes a top club on which North discards a heart to give the following 4-card ending:
Again South leads the ♣8!
1. If West ruffs, North overruffs and a diamond ruff, the ♣10 and ♠K take the rest.
2. If West discards a diamond, North ruffs and South ruffs a diamond. West ruffs the ♣10 but North overruffs and has a good diamond.
3. If West discards the ♥K, North ruffs high and South comes to hand on the ♠7 to score the ♣10 and ♥Q.
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