Competition Problem 124b
South to make six no-trumps against any defence.
Successful solvers: Jean-Marc Bihl, Ian Budden, Wing-Kai Hon, Leigh Matheson, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, Zoran Sibinović, Sze Guan Tan, Andries van der Vegt, Dick Yuen, Wim van der Zijden Tables
First, note that a club lead is immediately fatal, whereas if West leads the ♥J declarer can play for four heart tricks by double finessing against the ♥87, using the ♣A and either the ♦A or a spade finesse as entries. The fourth heart then squeezes West in three suits in, for example, this position:
A spade discard concedes an overtrick and a club discard allows South to set up three extra club tricks for the contract. So a diamond is best, but then West is thrown in on a spade after three rounds of diamonds.
Suppose West leads the ♠J. Then North wins with the ♠Q and leads the ♥Q, covered by the ♥K and ♥A. Declarer now has to abandon the idea of scoring all the hearts because that would take up both of North’s remaining entries and no squeeze would arise—West can safely unguard spades. Instead, declarer cashes the ♥10 and ♥9, squeezing West in this different position:
If West discards
A. a club, after three rounds of clubs the rest are won by the top cards in spades and diamonds together with three more club tricks.
B. a spade, North is entered on either minor suit ace to play ♠A and another spade. On the diamond return North gets in on the other ace to play the two established spades, squeezing West again in diamonds and clubs.
C. a diamond, three rounds of diamonds squeeze West again. A spade discard lets North establish the suit for the contract, but if West discards a club we have a neat endplay where North cashes the ♣A and advances the ♠9. West wins with the ♠10 but now has the choice of leading from ♠K4 into North’s ♠A5 giving three spade tricks to go with the ♣K, or a club into South’s tenace to give four club tricks.
The play on the lead of a low spade is similar. North wins with the ♠9 and leads the ♥Q. Plays proceeds as above but in line C, where West is thrown in with a spade, North must lead the ♠Q in the case where West keeps ♠KJ4.
Finally, we have to consider a diamond opening lead. North must win this with the ♦A and lead the ♥Q to ♥K and ♥A. Again the double heart finesse doesn’t help, so South again cashes the ♥10 and ♥9 and West is subjected to much the same repeating squeeze. In particular, if West unguards diamonds this time, South cashes the ♦K and leads the ♠8 to the ♠10 (best) and ♠Q, whereupon North’s diamond winner squeezes West for the second time as above.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2015