Competition Problem 149b
by Vincent Labbé
South to make five spades against any defence.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, Eugeniusz Paprotny, A.V. Ramana Rao, Rajeswar Tewari, Andries van der Vegt, Dick Yuen, Wim van der Zijden.
Suggested DRs ranged from 2 to 6 and most solvers found this one significantly more difficult than 149a. A common mistake, of which I was also guilty (sorry!), was to assume a heart discard from East in line B.1, thus omitting B.1(c) which I have now added below. Tables
West must lead the ♠K to prevent declarer from getting two heart ruffs for the contract. North plays the ♠Q.
A. If the ♠K holds, declarer will be able to set up North’s diamonds, using the ♦A and ♥K as entries, winning the first heart in hand if necessary. Then North can be entered on a heart ruff to lead a winning diamond.
B. If East (better) overtakes the ♠K and leads the ♠2, South wins with the ♠J and plays three more rounds of trumps, North discarding diamonds, West and East clubs. The position is now:
South leads another spade to start the squeeze. West must of course keep four hearts and East must keep three diamonds. North discards the ♦5.
1. If West discards a club, East must discard a heart. On the penultimate spade West is squeezed again. The hearts must still be kept and the ♣K guards against a ruffing finesse with ♣Q6 against ♣A5, so West throws a diamond. In that case North discards the ♥3 and now East is squeezed:
(a) A heart discard lets declarer score North’s red suit winners, ruff a club, then lead the ♥6, leaving ♥A7 over West’s ♥95 when West takes it.
(b) A club discard lets North establish a club trick.
(c) A diamond discard lets South play a diamond to the ♦A, ruff a diamond, cross to the ♥K, cash the good diamond, then exit on a club. Whichever defender wins this, at trick thirteen either South makes the ♥A or North makes a club trick.
2. If West discards a diamond, East again throws a heart. On the next spade, if West discards a club we have the position as in B.1, but if West instead discards another diamond, North throws a club and so does East. Now South can score the top hearts and club ruff, then overtake the ♦8 with the ♦9 to endplay East in diamonds, with ♦A7 over East’s ♦J6 when East takes the trick.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2017