Competition Problem 61
South to make four spades against any lead.
Successful solvers: Ian Budden, Vincent Labbé, Leigh Matheson, Rajeswar Tewari, Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden, Wim van der Zijden
This problem was derived with minor modifications from a deal from actual play, reported by Barry Rigal. Everybody who correctly solved it appears to have enjoyed doing so. Added later: Paolo Treossi also composed a problem based on the same deal. He sent it to me in April 2010, expressing his chagrin at having been beaten to the post, so to speak. You can see his version in my archive as Problem 514.
Declarer threatens to make five spades, three top tricks in the red suits, the ♣K (or the sixth trump if West ruffs it), and a diamond ruff in North. To effect the diamond ruff declarer will duck the first round of that suit and later play three rounds after drawing East’s trump. The only defence to foil this plan is for West to lead a club to the ♣A, ruff a club, and lead a trump. If declarer runs that to the ♠10 and ducks a diamond, a club return forces South to ruff high and now North cannot afford to ruff a diamond (with the ♠A). Therefore North wins with the ♠A and, abandoning the idea of a diamond ruff, declarer runs the trumps. On the third and fourth trumps North discards a low heart and the ♦9! Here is the position as South leads the fifth trump:
Clearly West must throw a heart.
A. If West throws a low heart, North lets go the ♦2. If East discards
1. a club, the play goes ♦K, club ruff, ♦A, ♥A to score the long club.
2. a diamond, North makes the ♦K and ♥A and South ruffs a heart. Now a low diamond lead endplays West for two more tricks.
3. a heart, South leads a heart for an avoidance play, North ducking the ♥K if West plays it, otherwise winning with the ♥A and exiting to the ♥K. In either case North makes the ♦K, ♥A and ♥10, then South ruffs a club to score the ♦A.
B. If West throws the ♥K, line A.3 is foiled but now East has sole control of hearts. North discards a club. East does the same, but now East can be thrown in with a heart after ♦A, ♦K and a club ruff. Care is needed here, in case East allows the ♥9 to hold! If West discarded a heart on that club ruff, North must overtake the ♥9 with the ♥10, the ♥A5 becoming the required tenace; otherwise, when the ♥9 holds West’s remaining diamond winner becomes a stepping-stone to the ♥A.
Trap: If North discards the ♦2 instead of the ♦9 on the third spade, West will throw the ♥K on the penultimate trump and when North discards a club East throws a diamond. When declarer now essays line A.2, West allows the ♦9 to win, leaving North with a club loser and a heart loser.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
© Hugh Darwen, 2010
Date last modified: 03 June, 2019