Competition Problem 84
South to make three no-trumps against the lead of the ♠6.
Successful solvers: Well, only one person discovered line F., where West has to switch after leading the ♦A. That was Jean-Marc Bihl but he disqualified himself for missing the need for North to unblock in diamonds in line C. So we must congratulate Paolo Treossi on another great problem.
This is a novel study in throw-in and throw-in avoidance, involving an unusual squeeze when the throw-in succeeds. Declarer has seven easy tricks after conceding tricks to the ♠A and ♦A. If West can be thrown in with nothing but hearts left, then it seems that two more tricks will accrue in that suit, but unfortunately the position will be like this …
… and the diamonds are blocked. However, South when captures the ♥K and returns the ♥9 to West’s ♥10 (best), the fourth round of hearts squeezes East¾either North makes the ♦10 and a club or South makes the ♦J and ♦8. (If West leads the ♥J to South's ♥Q. South plays ♥A and another heart. If West wins, a similar squeeze ensues. If West ducks, East has to discard a club, whereupon North score the ♦10 throws east in with a club so that South's ♦J takes the last trick.)
Assume that West leads the ♠6. Then South will play the ♠10 regardless of East’s play to this trick!
A. If East plays low, South wins and returns the ♠2 to East’s ♠A. East gets out with a club, whereupon South makes all the black suit winners, North and East discarding clubs, and leads a low diamond. West does best to rise with the ♦A, but North drops the ♦K! West now does best to cash the ♦Q, but then we have Position A (and the result is much the same if the ♦Q is not cashed).
B. If East wins with the ♠A and returns a club on which West discards the ª7, then play follows line A. (A discard of the ♠3 or ♠J only gives declarer additional options.)
C. If East wins with the ♠A and returns the suit, South wins and leads a diamond. West does best to play the ♦A, but this time North drops the ♦10! Now North’s ♦K is the entry to take a diamond finesse against East, after which it is easy to throw West in on the fourth spade for three heart tricks.
D. If East wins with the ♠A and returns a heart, South plays the ♥9. West wins but South can now, for example, score the ♠Q, ♣A, and ♥A before leading a diamond. North again drops the ♦10 on West’s ♦A and the position is as in line C except that one of the three heart tricks has already been won. (Actually, easier lines are available if South does not cash the ♣A.)
E. If East wins with the ♠A and returns a club on which West discards a heart, South wins and leads a diamond. West does best to play the ♦A, but this time North drops the ♦2! The next three tricks are won by the ♠Q, the ♦K, and the ♠K, whereupon South exits on the ♠2 and we have Position A again.
To defeat the contract, West must lead the ♦A!
F. If North drops the ♦2, West continues with a high spade to East’s ♠A and discards another high spade on East’s club return! Now the only throw-in that can be achieved is like Position A except that North has the ♦K instead of the ♦10 and no squeeze against East materializes.
G. If North drops the ♦10, West continues with the ♦Q. South can either take the diamond finesse or lead a spade towards the ♠KQ, but cannot do both. The contract is doomed.
Trap: In F, if West continues with the ♦Q as in G, North wins two diamond tricks and leads a spade. East does best to win with the ♠A and return a club, West disposing of the two middle spades while South unblocks the ♠10. South now cashes the ♦J and West jettisons the ♠J. However, North can now be entered on the ♠9 to lead a high club. East wins this trick but is endplayed and must now lead either a heart into the ♥AQ or let North make a club trick with an entry back to South in spades. Thanks to Vincent Labbé for drawing my attention to this important omission from my analysis! A similar comment applies in G, if West switches to a middle spade instead of the ♦Q.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
© Hugh Darwen, 2012
Date last modified: 11 March, 2017