Competition Problem 152a
South to make six hearts against any defence.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Ian Budden, Sebastian Nowacki, Rajeswar Tewari, Wim van der Zijden
A. If West leads a heart, North wins and leads a diamond for the finesse. South plays three rounds of diamonds, North ruffing the third. West does best to discard a club. South finesses the ♠Q and now has several options. Perhaps the simplest is to cash the ♠A, ruff another diamond, and exit in spades. The South hand is high if West ruffs this trick, so East wins and (best) leads the ♣A. South ruffs and leads the good diamond, which either wins the trick or, if West ruffs, picks up the trumps. In the former case North discards a spade and the last three tricks are made on a cross-ruff; in the latter, North overruffs and cashes the ♣K, leaving South with two high trumps.
B. If West leads a spade, South wins with the ♠Q and can play as in line A, crossing to North on a trump at trick two. South can now play three rounds of diamonds. West must keep a spade to guard against a second finesse, so South can come to hand on the ♠A for the second diamond ruff.
C. If West leads a diamond, line A can easily be reached—say, by cashing a top heart at trick two (though this is not necessary) and then continuing diamonds.
D. If West leads a club, line A can no longer be reached. However, North finesses the ♣9 and South ruffs East’s ♣Q with a top heart. Now comes the ♦Q!
1. If East wins, North’s ♦J becomes an entry for another club, covered by East and ruffed high by South. Now trumps are drawn, North finessing the ♥8 on the second round, and the ♣K squeezes East in spades and diamonds.
2. If East ducks the ♦Q, North is entered on a heart finesse to lead another club
(a) If East covers, South again ruffs with a top trump, then cashes the ♦A (this could have been done at trick three, optionally) and leads another, North ruffing low if West discards.
(i) If West has discarded a club, then North ruffs and South discards a spade on the established club winner and plays three rounds of spades. If West ruffs and leads a trump, North rises with the ♥Q to score the last trump and a spade; otherwise East wins and the last three tricks are made on a cross-ruff.
(ii) If West has discarded a spade, then South finesses the ♠Q and crosses to North by overtaking the ♥J. Another spade finesse gives West a ruff but the return puts North in so that South can discard the diamond losers and win the last two tricks in spades.
(iii) If West ruffs in, declarer has several options, discarding a spade from North being the simplest.
(b) If East ducks, South must discard a spade, then finesse the ♠Q, cash the two side suit aces, and lead a diamond.
(i) If West discards, North ruffs low and leads the ♣K, covered by East's ♣A. Declarer can succeed by ruffing high but simpler is to discard the spade loser and cross-ruff the last four tricks.
(ii) If West ruffs, North must overruff and exit on either black suit. Declarer easily makes the last four tricks whatever East returns.
Trap: In line D.2, If South plays the ♦A and another diamond, West discards a spade. North ruffs and leads a club but East ducks! There is no longer any play for the contract.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2017