Competition Problem 116a
(after Norman Bonney)
South to make four hearts. West leads the ♣10.
Successful solvers: Jean-Marc Bihl, Steve Bloom, Ian Budden, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki (see the note Added later below), Andries van der Vegt, Wim Van der Zijden. Some solvers failed to notice that East might reasonably duck the ♥Q, and some who did see that defence tried ♦A and another diamond in line B, which fails when West keeps two diamonds and East ruffs in with the ♥K on the third diamond. Tables
For the record, the problem by Norman Bonney appeared as No. 84 in George Coffin’s Sure Tricks (1948) but was found to be cooked when I was compiling the Coffin collection. Paolo Treossi's amendments preserve the original intention. Added later: Sebastian Nowacki noticed the similarity with Problem 289 by Robert Lemaire (1984), raising the possibility that Lemaire had also decided to fix Bonney's problem, in which South's hearts were headed by the ♥AKQ10, allowing North to either win the first trick or duck it, then simply establish the ♦J as the tenth trick, with no danger of a trump loser.
North ducks, wins club continuation and advances the ♥Q.
A. If East covers, South wins and plays a spade. Assuming West plays low, North wins the trick and South comes to hand on a second heart to lead another spade, completing an avoidance play against West, North ducking when West plays the ♠K. However West plays, South discards a diamond loser on the third round of spades. North pays the ♦A and another diamond, ruffed by South with the ♥4. Now the ♥8 is followed by the carefully preserved ♥2, putting West on lead to concede two diamond tricks to North via the finesse of the ♦7.
B. If East ducks, South plays the ♥4 (for the same reason as in line A) and North cashes the ♠A! (Note that in line A it doesn’t matter which of North’s spades wins the first round when West plays low.) Declarer is aiming for the same ending as in line A. If West drops the ♠K under the ♠A it may seem that the avoidance play has been avoided, so to speak, but North simply plays ♠Q and another spade, South discarding a diamond.
1. If either player wins and returns a red suit, play reverts to line A.
2. If East wins and cashes a club, the ♥K must come next or North’s ♥9 takes care of the fourth club and South can draw trumps. Now the run of the hearts squeezes East in the minor suits.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2014