Competition Problem 73
by Sebastian Nowacki
South to make four spades against any lead.
Successful solvers: Jean-Marc Bihl, Steve Bloom, Satyanarayana, Rajeswar Tewari, Wim van der Zijden
Solvers expressed their appreciation of this first composition by Sebastian Nowacki, who has now acquired the 50 D.D. Master Points needed to achieve the rank of Problemist.
A. If West starts with a spade, declarer aims for the following ending (we’ll call it X) with North on lead:
Alternatively, South might have two diamonds and one club, in which case so does West. North leads the ♥10, South discarding the minor suit singleton. South discards from the other minor on East’s return and West is squeezed in three suits, including trumps!
There are several slightly different ways to arrive at this ending, but in each case South must ruff two hearts, the second with the ♠Q, and North must score the ♣Q early on. (Note that when a club is led from South, West does best to duck because otherwise the tenth trick is easily obtained by a club ruff in North.) Also, East’s diamonds must be eliminated, entailing an early duck in that suit.
West’s opening lead of a spade is taken by North, but even then the play is not 100% precise. For example, at trick 2 North must play on hearts but has the option of cashing the ♥A right away or some time later.
Assume North leads a low heart at trick 2. South ruffs and leads a club to North’s ♣Q. Now a diamond must be lost to West but again North has the option of cashing the ♥A now or later. Assume a diamond is conceded immediately. In that case West does best to return a diamond to the ♦A. North must now cash the ♥A, South discarding from either minor suit, and give South that heart ruff with the ♠Q. After the ♣A and a spade to North we reach ending X.
Other variations in the order of play all lead to ending X, with one exception. In the line just described West might return a trump at trick 5 instead of the second diamond. If North now cashes the ♥A play will eventually revert to ending X. However, North can instead exit with a club ducked round to West. To prevent the club ruff West leads a third spade to South’s ♠Q, whereupon South cashes the last spade, crosses to the ♦A and discards a diamond on North’s ♥10 (!), taken by East. The heart return to North’s ♥A squeezes West in the minor suits.
B. Ending X cannot be reached if West starts with the ♦K, ducked, and follows with the ♦Q to North’s ♦A. There is more than one solution now but perhaps the simplest is to play all the spades, forcing West to discard two hearts, as does North. South now leads a low club.
1. If West ducks, North wins with the ♣Q and cashes the ♥A, South discarding a club. West is forced to part with a club and so has to let South make the ♦10 after being thrown in by ♣A and another club.
2. If West wins with the ♣K, North wins the forced club return and leads the ♥10 to obtain two rounds of hearts, on which South throws diamonds. As North retains a menace card in diamonds, West is squeezed in the minors.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
© Hugh Darwen, 2011
Date last modified: 29 March, 2018