Competition Problem 52
by Hugh Darwen
West to lead and East-West to defeat South's contract of two no-trumps.
Successful solver: Only Rajeswar Tewari submitted a correct solution.
West must lead the ♣Q.
A. If North wins and (best) leads a heart to West's ♥K, West must now lead the ♦K!
1. If South ducks, West must lead another diamond to North's ♦Q. When South now finesses a heart, West must discard a spade--not a club, or South can exit with a small heart to rectify the count. If South now exits on a club, West can win and return a diamond, retaining an entry in clubs to prevent that count rectification in hearts. As a last-ditch effort, therefore, South cashes the remaining top heart, but now West can safely discard a club.
2. If South takes the ♦K with the ♦A, the best try now is to exit in clubs. West can afford to take two club tricks, but not the third, before leading the ♦2. If South now makes two heart tricks, West safely discards a spade and a club.
B. If North ducks the ♣Q, West must now lead the ♦2! North can win and lose a heart to West, but that player merely continues diamonds from the top and declarer has nowhere to run to.
If, in A, West leads a low diamond instead of the ♦K, North wins. Declarer plays two rounds of hearts, finessing. If West discards a diamond, South can set up a long diamond; otherwise West discards a club and a spade but is triple-squeezed when South exits on a third heart.
If, in A, West cashes a club before leading the ♦K, South ducks. If West now cashes two more clubs that player will eventually be squeezed in the pointed suits. Better is an immediate diamond exit, but North leads a heart to the ♥J on which West discards a spade. Now South exits on a club and again West does better not to cash the last club, leading a diamond instead. But South wins this and exits on a low heart to rectify the count.
If, in B, West leads the ♦K at trick 2, South wins and cashes the ♥A! A club follows, North overtaking with the ♣K if West ducks and leading the ♥5. If East lets the ♥J win this trick, West is squeezed in three suits. If East instead wins it, the ♥10 and ♥J will both score. West fares no better by rising with the ♣A and leading a diamond. Again North leads a low heart and the ♥J squeezes West without the count.
If West starts with the ♣A and continues the suit, North can either win (after which the play is interesting) or duck. Say the ♣K wins trick 2. Then a heart is ducked and West tries the ♦K as in A, but South ducks, wins the next diamond with the ♦Q, takes the heart finesse and, when West discards a spade as in A.1, exits on a club, breaking the defenders' communications.
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