Competition Problem 148b
by Steve Bloom and Daniel Jackson
South to make six no-trumps. West leads the ♠5.
Successful solvers: Ian Budden, Johnson, Leigh Matheson, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, A.V. Ramana Rao, Rajeswar Tewari, Andries van der Vegt, Dick Yuen, Wim van der Zijden. Tables
Sorry that for the second month running I have misjudged the relative difficulties of the two problems.
Declarer wins the spade lead in hand and runs the suit. This is the position at trick six, with two spades still to be played:
Note that West has taken care to keep the ♦3 and South has had to bare the ♦K. Many variations now arise as North scores the two remaining spade winners.
A. East first discards a heart, South a club (perforce), West the ♦3.
1. If East then discards another heart, South must play the ♦K. West does best to throw the ♦A but East then has to duck North’s lead of the ♦2 (to avoid setting up the ♦7) on which South parts with a low heart. West has to return a heart to South’s ♥K. The ♥4 to the ♥A then squeezes East in the minor suits.
2. If East instead discards a diamond, South can throw the ♦K and West is caught in a guard squeeze with the count: a club discard gives declarer three club tricks via two finesses; a heart discard gives declarer three heart tricks; and a diamond discard lets North give up a diamond to establish a winner in that suit.
B. As in A, but West discards the ♦J. A minor suit discard by East is now immediately fatal, so East throws another heart and South and West must do the same. Now two rounds of hearts catch East in a vice: a club discard gives three club tricks, whereas baring the ♦Q allows that card to be pinned by the ♦K losing to the ♦A and setting up North’s ♦7. Various orders of play are possible. Simplest is to take the club finesse and then cash the hearts in either order. When East discards a diamond, cash the ♣A and lead the ♦K. West’s last card is the ♦3, losing to North’s ♦7.
C. East first discards the ♦6, South the ♦K (perforce), West the ♦3.
1. If East then discards the ♦Q, South throws a heart and can safely play three rounds of clubs to set up the fourth.
2. If East instead discards a heart, South throws a club and West is squeezed as in A.2.
D. As in C, but West discards a heart. East is compelled to discard the other diamond on the last spade and play follows line C.1.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2017