Competition Problem 156b
South to make four spades. West leads the ♠6.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, A.V. Ramana Rao, Rajeswar Tewari, Wim van der Zijden. Yes, I've done it again! I realised the solution was long but I didn't think any line was especially difficult. I was wrong about C.2 below.
North wins with the ♠Q, cashes a top heart, and exits to West on a middle club.
A. If West returns a heart, North covers Westís card. If that is the ♥9, then South ruffs Eastís ♥Q and North gets a diamond ruff to cash the other top heart; otherwise the ♥A takes the ♥J and North leads the ♥10 with the same effect. In either case South can discard either a club or a low diamond on the top heart. A spade to the ♠A comes next and West is then thrown in on the ♠K. Westís return concedes a trick in diamonds, with the ♣K and two heart winners to come from North. (Some variations in the discards and order of play are possible in this variation.)
B. If West returns a spade declarer has many options. Simplest is to draw trumps and throw East in with ♣K and another club. A diamond return then gives declarer the tenth trick in that suit, whereas a heart return concedes an overtrick.
C. A return of the ♦A would make life very easy for declarer but if West returns a low diamond the play must be precise. North discards a middle club and South wins as cheaply as possible, then advances the remaining diamond honour in this position:
1. If West covers, North ruffs and South plays ♠A and another spade, North discarding a club. A heart return now sets up two extra heart tricks for North, whereas a diamond return endplays East in hearts and clubs, at the same time setting up Southís ♦8.
2. If West plays low, North discards a heart and South leads a low club, North playing the remaining middle card, taken by Eastís ♣Q (West would concede an overtrick by ruffing declarerís loser here). South wins the black suit return with the ♠A or ♣8 and ruffs a diamond in North. South discards the diamond loser on the top heart and comes back on a club to the ♣8 or a spade to the ♠A, whichever is still held. Whether Westís ♠K ruffs the ♣8 or takes the next trick, North-South take the remainder in the black suits.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2018