Competition Problem 63
South to make three spades against any defence.
Successful solvers: Mike Betts, Sebastian Nowacki, Rajeswar Tewari, Paolo Treossi.
Declarer has eight tricks, including a diamond ruff, and it seems the ninth can only come from a ruff and discard from West or a club-heart squeeze against East. Because East sits over the heart menace, that squeeze will have to be a so-called “inverted” squeeze, with the ♣A as entry to the possible heart winner and the ♣K as entry back to the possible club winner. How such an ending can be arrived at is not immediately obvious.
West does best to cash the trump winners and lead a heart.
A. If West leads the ♥5, North wins with the ♥A (otherwise as cheaply as possible and returns a club) and leads the ♥J, covered and ruffed. A club to the ♣K is followed by the ♥10, also covered and ruffed. Now declarer exits on the ♦2. Whatever East returns, the ♦K comes as soon as possible. If West still has a heart, North ruffs and throws West in with a heart; otherwise North discards a club. In either case West’s forced diamond lead concedes the ruff and discard.
B. If West leads the ♥9, North ducks! As East cannot afford to overtake, the ♥9 wins and West leads another heart to North’s ♥A. Now it is important to keep East off the lead while the count is rectified for the squeeze, so South plays the ♦K on North’s diamond lead. A diamond ruff, a heart ruff, and the remaining trump winners bring about the aforementioned squeeze.
An opening heart lead is weaker defence because North has a choice of plays. If it is the ♥9, North can duck as in line B, and if it is the ♥5 North must win with the ♥A. But in either case North has the option to win with the ♥A and continue with a heart ruff. South exists on a spade. West cashes the other top spade and leads a third heart, but South ruffs, cross to the ♣A, ruffs the last heart, and exits on the ♦2.
Rajeswar Tewari comments: “I guess it is only in double dummy problems that opponents will let us play in three spades when they are themselves making three no-trumps or five diamonds and at double dummy it takes a heart lead and ruff to defeat six diamonds J.” He’s right, of course!
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