Competition Problem 159a
South to make four spades. West leads the ♥K.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Ed Lawhon, Radu Mihai, Zoran Sibinović, Rajeswar Tewari. Several solvers missed line C.2, as indeed did I at first, and also, it seems, the composer himself.
North wins with the ♥A and returns the suit, East discarding a club.
A. If West returns a trump or a heart, South plays all the spades bar one, North discarding hearts. East, still to play in the following position, is squeezed in the minor suits:
A club discard allows North’s ♣9 to be established by ruffing with an eventual entry in diamonds, whereas a diamond discard is followed by a diamond to ♦Q and ♦K, then the ♦J if East lets the ♦K hold. However East plays, South will eventually make a trick with the fourth diamond.
B. A diamond from West at trick 3 gives declarer options, the simplest being to continue diamonds when the lead is regained, aiming for a diamond ruff in North. If East foils this by leading trumps, then play will end in a simple squeeze against East.
C. So West does best to return a club. North wins with the ♣A and leads a heart. East is already squeezed in three suits and does best to “discard” a trump. South overruffs with the ♠J and leads a diamond to the ♦Q (best) and ♦K, East doing best to play the ♦9. South ruffs high another heart,
1. If East “discards” another trump, South plays a diamond to the ♦8, ♦J and ♦A. Now East must return a trump to prevent North from ruffing the fourth diamond. Assuming East returns the ♠9 (otherwise North wins with the ♠7), South plays the ♠8 and North wins with the ♠10 in this position:
North leads the ♥8 and East is fixed. A diamond discard is obviously fatal and ruffing gives up the card that would prevent North from ruffing the fourth diamond. So East tries a club discard, but in that case South discards a diamond, ruffs the club return high, and crosses to North on the ♠7 to score the good ♣9.
2. If East instead discards a club, South leads the ♠8 to North's ♠10 and ruffs a club high to establish North's ♣9. Now the remaining top spades are followed by the ♠2 to East, who must let North in on the ♦J to cash the good club.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2018