Competition Problem 95a
by Sebastian Nowacki
South can make three no-trumps against any lead, but how is it done when West leads the ♣J?
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Kukuh Indrayana, F.Y. Sing. Nobody gave a complete solution to the defence of winning the first club and attacking hearts, so I'm accepting these three but lowering the DR accordingly (obviously it would have been DR8 otherwise). Note that I've now added an explanation of why a club lead at trick 2 fails.
North covers with the ♣K and East does best to duck. South comes to hand on a spade and leads a diamond. West does best to rise with the ♦K (preserving the entry to East) and lead another club. Again North covers. East wins and might as well play a third club, taken by South, who leads another diamond to North's ♦Q. East must win.
A. If East cashes the good club and leads a diamond, West is squeezed out of a heart and so North discards a spade. Now the ♠A and ♠K squeeze East.
B. If East immediately returns a diamond, South wins and plays a spade to the ♠A and a spade back to the ♠K, squeezing a heart from East to leave this ending with South on lead:
A heart (say, the ♥9) is covered by West and North and West is thrown in with the spade. If East discards a heart, so does South, and North makes the ♥A5. Otherwise South discards from the minor suit East keeps and wins the last two tricks with the ♥J and a minor suit winner (or North again wins them with the ♥A5 if West leads the ♥Q).
Steve Bloom's submitted solution is identical to the above but he has now emailed me to say that he does not want it to be accepted! He points out that there's and interesting enough line for declarer if East wins the opening lead and returns a heart, covered all round, then wins the first diamond (capturing the ♦Q) and continues hearts, setting up a winner for East. If this winner is cashed when West wins the second diamond, South can discard a spade and there's an easy minor suit squeeze; but a black suit return from West breaks up this squeeze and declarer has to fall back on the triple squeeze that arises when the black suit winners are cashed, ending in North.
Added even later:
Trap: If East ducks the first trick and North leads the ♣10, East wins and returns either a heart, covered all round, or a club to South's ♣Q, West discarding a heart. In either case West now plays low on South's low diamond lead and East captures the ♦Q with the ♦A. Again East can now lead either a club or a heart, and if East's choice is a club, West discards the ♦K! (But leading hearts twice is the easier defence.)
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: 03 June, 2019