Competition Problem 90
by Steve Bloom
to make six hearts against any defence.
Successful solvers: Jean-Marc Bihl, Ian Budden, Leigh Matheson, and Wim van der Zijden gave complete solutions to both parts. I'm awarding 3 points to Fred Kreek and Dick Yuen, who gave correct solutions to part (a).
A. If West leads a trump, North wins. Three rounds of diamonds follow: ♦K, ♦A, ♦J covered and ruffed. South comes to hand on the ♥A and throws North’s spade on the good ♦9. North ruffs a spade and South comes to hand on a third trump. West discards the ♠A (or plays it on the first round) to avoid the obvious throw-in, so South cashes the ♠K and North ruffs the remaining spade. This brings North, South, and West down to three clubs each with North leading one. If West has discarded the ♣6, South plays the ♣5 and wins the last two; otherwise South plays the ♣Q and either that or North’s ♣7 must win a trick.
B. A diamond lead is apparently into the jaws of a tenace but it doesn’t really concede anything as declarer always makes three tricks in the suit anyway. In fact, North must win it with the ♦K, and now the play transposes to line A. Note that if South lets the diamond run to the ♦J, it is no longer possible to eliminate West’s diamonds as well as ruffing a spade.
C. So, as the ♠K is going to win a trick anyway, West might as well start with ♠A and another spade. In that case, North discards a club and South wins with the ♠K. This time the first diamond lead must be the ♦J from South, though this can come at any time during or immediately after the playing of three rounds of trumps, inevitably ending in South. West does best to allow the ♦J to hold, thus blocking the suit, but North ruffs a spade and plays the remaining trumps, South discarding clubs, to catch West in a deep criss-cross squeeze. On a diamond discard North cashes the ♦K and South makes the rest; on a club discard South makes the ♣A and North’s ♦K and two master clubs take the rest.
When the black suit eights and nines are swapped, the “one suit squeeze” of line A fails because West now has two clubs lower than East’s singleton and can safely discard one of them on the ♠K. However, after the discard of the ♠A South’s ♠K9 constitute a tenace, so South can exit on a low club to endplay whichever defender wins the trick. And if West rises with the ♠A on the first round of that suit, then South can come to hand on the ♣A and play ♠K and another spade to obtain a ruff-and-discard from East.
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