Competition Problem 75
by Paolo Treossi
South to make four no-trumps. West leads the ♥Q.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Sebastian Nowacki, Satyanarayana.
This problem neatly combines the themes of throw-in, non-material squeeze and see-saw squeeze. Line A below was analysed by Jeff Miller. Lines B and C are added by Paolo Treossi in this composition.
First, note that West's ♥4 protects that player from being thrown in and forced to lead spades into South's tenace, so simply playing on diamonds at trick 2 doesn't work: North may make three heart tricks but South will "go to bed" with the spade winners. South might try switching to clubs after winning the first diamond, but East wins the first and returns a spade; then the second club must be ducked to West's ♣Q but that player then exits on a diamond, not a heart. Therefore, the clubs must be established while South's diamond holding remains intact.
So, North wins the first trick and leads the ♣8 (not the ♣5!), covered by East.
A. If West wins and leads another heart, North wins leads a low diamond taken by South. South continues diamonds from the top, East doing best to win the third round and return a high club. North then takes the three minor suit winners, squeezing West.
1. If West comes down to three spades and a heart, North exits on a heart.
2. If West keeps two of each major, North exits on the ♣5.
In either case, South takes the last three tricks in spades. Note that if North had not preserved the ♣5, then East would have kept the ♣6 to play under the ♣8 in line A.2, leaving North on lead with two heart losers. And if South belatedly attempts to counteract that by cash a spade before leading the second diamond, then East wins and returns a spade.
B. If East wins the club at trick 2 and returns a spade, South wins and North discards a heart. A club is lost to West’s ♣Q. West now does best to lead a diamond, won by South with the ♦10 (not the ♦Q!). Then North wins a heart and the remaining clubs, South discarding spades. This time East is squeezed even though that player appears to hold no guards! The next trick is won by South in diamonds. Then:
1. If East keeps three diamonds and a spade, South wins the ♦Q and the other top spade and then leads another diamond, losing only to the ♦A.
2. If East keeps only two diamonds, North leads the ♦J in this position:
i. If East wins and leads a spade, South makes the ♠A and North discards the ♥6. North overtakes the ♦Q to score the last trick with the ♦3.
ii. If East wins and leads a diamond, West is squeezed! Either South makes the ♦Q and two spade tricks or North overtakes the ♦Q and makes the ♦3 and ♥6, according to West’s discard.
iii. If East ducks, the ♦J wins and West is squeezed. If West discards a heart, then North throws West in with a heart. If West discards a spade, North throws East in with a diamond. In either case, South’s spades take the last two tricks.
C. If, in line B, West leads a heart instead of a diamond at trick 5 (after making the ♣Q), then North wins a heart and the remaining clubs, South discarding spades. The position is very similar to that obtained in line B. Again East is squeezed. The next trick is won by South in diamonds. Then:
1. If East keeps four diamonds and a spade, South wins the other top spade and then continues diamonds from the top, losing only to the ♦A.
2. If East keeps only three diamonds, the position is as in line B.2 except that South is on lead instead of North (and South might have the ♦10 instead of the ♦Q). South leads the ♦4, squeezing West.
i. If West discards a heart and East ducks, then West is thrown in with a heart so that South takes the last two tricks in spades.
ii. If West discards a heart and East wins with the ♦A, then East must return a diamond as otherwise South makes the ♠A and North makes the ♦K and ♦3. West is squeezed again, as in B.2(ii).
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: 03 June, 2019