Competition Problem 141b
by Stefan Ralescu
West leads the ♣J to Southís contract of four spades. How is the contract defeated?
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Ian Budden, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, A.V. Ramana Rao, Zoran Sibinović, Andries van der Vegt Tables
East wins with the ♣A and returns the ♦K! Declarerís best try is to win with the ♦A, discard the diamond loser on the ♣K, and play on hearts. East wins the first or second heart and in either case must now lead the ♠6! Added after initial publication: If South ducks the first heart and plays low on the ♠6 return, West must rise with the ♠9. Otherwise North would win with the ♠8 and run the ♦J, discarding a heart. North then gets in with the ♠A to score the ♦8. See also Trap 2 below.
1. If East leads a low diamond at trick two, play follows as before but North can win the trump return and play the ♦J, covered by East and ruffed by South. Now after the ♥A and a heart ruff Southís remaining heart goes away on Northís good diamond and the ♠K is the defenceís third and last trick.
2. Suppose declarer wins the first heart and East the second, so we have:
If East exits on the ♥8 instead of the ♠6, North ruffs (with either trump card) and South ruffs a diamond. The last heart is now ruffed. Underruffing (or overruffing) by East destroys the possibility of promoting Westís ♠9, so East discards. Now North leads from the suit East has discarded. South ruffs low and leads a high spade to Eastís ♠K. As West follows suit on the minor suit return, South can ruff low and draw trumps.
Added after initial publication: The above is based on the assumption that North leads a heart at trick four. If instead South ruffs a diamond first, then the trap still applies in the sense that East must still lead the ♠6, but now declarer's play is easier on a heart return as North can lead either minor suit after ruffing the third heart with the ♠A. And if South plays low on the ♠6, then West must play the ♠9. If North were able to win with the ♠8, then South can ruff a club or diamond, cross to the ♠A, ruff the other minor suit and draw the last trump. East's last three cards are the ♥8 and a loser in each minor suit. If East discards the heart, South's ♥76 are equals against West's ♥95. If East instead discard a club or diamond, North discards from the same suit at trick twelve and thus wins the last trick if West lets the heart run to East.
3. If South lets Eastís ♥Q win the first heart and East then returns the ♥K instead of the ♠6, then South wins with the ♥A and ruffs a heart, giving the same situation as in Trap 2.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2016