Competition Problem 136a
by Jean-Marc Bihl
South to make four spades. West leads the ♣J.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, Wim van der Zijden. Tables
North takes the opening lead with the ♣K and leads a low diamond which goes to either the ♦4, ♦6, and ♦7 or the ♦8 (better), ♦K, and ♦A. In either case West is on lead.
A. If West leads a spade—preferably a low one—North plays low and South wins to lead a diamond, on which North plays the ♦3 even in the case where this allows West to win the trick with the ♦7! West might as well lead another spade, preferably a high one, taken by North so that South can ruff a diamond. South’s remaining spade must now be a low one so that North’s ♠8 can be finessed when West’s remaining holding is ♠97.
At this point South has the option to cash the ♥A now or later—let’s assume now so that the position, with South on lead requiring five more tricks is this:
North wins two spade tricks, finessing, and East is triple-squeezed. A minor suit discard is immediately fatal but when both hearts are discarded South can discard a club, take the club finesse and set up a heart trick.
B. If West, having won the second trick with the ♦A, leads the ♥Q, South wins with the ♥A and leads the ♦6. This time, when West covers with the ♦7 North must cover in turn—otherwise a second heart from West sinks the contract. To prevent the squeeze of line A, East must now give West a club ruff. Assuming West now leads a high spade, taken by North, and South plays low, the position is like this:
In some order, we now have a diamond ruffed high, a heart ruff, another diamond ruffed high, the ♠8 finessed, North’s remaining spades and South’s two club tricks.
C. If West, having won the second trick with the ♦7, leads the ♥Q, South ducks! Play now follows line A, except that we now reach this five-card end position with South on lead needing all the remaining tricks:
The spade finesse immediately squeezes East and declarer takes the rest.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2016