Competition Problem 138a
South to make four spades. West leads the ♦J.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Ian Budden, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, Zoran Sibinović, Andries van der Vegt. Tables
Declarer faces four losers: two in trumps and one in each red suit. Possibilities to reduce these to three are (a) a trump endplay against West, (b) obtaining a heart lead away from West’s ♥K, and (c) a squeeze against East, who has guards in three suits. All three possibilities arise in the solution, depending on the defence. East does best to overtake the ♦J but in any case South ducks.
A. If East returns the ♠2, North wins, capturing West’s ♠8, and then we have a diamond to the ♦A, a club finesse, the top club, a club ruffed by South, and at trick 7 a low diamond in this position:
1. If West discards, North ruffs and plays ♥A and another heart. In with the ♥K, West has to return a high trump to South, who exits on the remaining diamond. West is forced to ruff this and lead into South’s ♠A9 tenace.
2. If West ruffs high, declarer will gain a trick on the return. If it is a heart, declarer has a choice of plays to keep West to just one more trick with the ♠J. If it is a trump, South draws trumps and East is squeezed in three suits as North comes down to ♥A5 and ♣7—South leads the ♥Q to pin the ♥J if East discards a second heart.
3. If West ruffs low, North overruffs and declarer has a choice of plays. Either ruff a club high and play two more rounds of trumps to endplay west, or play a heart to the ♥Q and ♥K so that South gets a heart ruff with the ♠9.
B. If East returns a heart, declarer has a choice but must not allow East to win a heart trick. One way is to duck the heart around to North’s ♥A and put West in with the second heart, before or after ruffing the third diamond in North. Assume instead that South plays the ♥Q and lets the ♥K hold.
1. If West now leads a high trump, South wins in hand and in some order makes two club tricks, the red suit aces, a heart ruff and a club ruff to give
Needing three more tricks, South leads a diamond to let North’s ♠K capture one of West’s trumps. West then has to ruff the next trick, as South throws a diamond, and lead into the ♠A9.
2. If West returns anything else at trick 3, declarer can in some order make all the side-suit winners and obtain two ruffs to come down to a similar position but with one more trump in each hand:
South leads a diamond and West does best to ruff with the ♠8. North overruffs and leads a club or heart for South to ruff high. North’s ♠7 now forces West to ruff the next diamond high and again lead into South’s ♠A9.
C. On any other return at trick 2 the position shown in B.2 can be reached.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2016