Competition Problem 177a
by F. Y. Sing
South to make three spades. West leads the ♦K or the ♣Q.
Successful solvers: Franco Baseggio, Steve Bloom, Ian Budden, Abby Chiu, Ed Lawhon, Steve McVea, Sebastian Nowacki, Rajeswar Tewari. Suggested DRs ranged from4 to 6-7, averaging at exactly 5.
On a whim I have used tabular form for a change in the solution that follows. Comments are welcome.
Declarer aims to force a heart lead from East into North’s ♥Q9 major tenace, squeezing West in the minor suits. To this end, South must be able to lose the fourth round of trumps to East after the ♥K has been ruffed out and East’s minor suits have been eliminated. Here’s how to play on the ♦K lead, assuming best defence:
A. 1. ♦K-♦5-♦10-♦2!
2. ♠Q-♠4!-♠6-♠8! West does best to lead a spade
11. ♥Q-♥7-♦4-? West is squeezed
If West leads a club at trick three, then the play is the same except that trick six will be a diamond to South’s ♦K.
If West switches a minor suit at trick two, then declarer has several options and needs to lose only two trump tricks, but the play becomes quite precise if West starts with the ♣Q:
B. 1. ♣Q-♣3-C6-♣K
4. ♦K-♦6-♦J-♦A or West could lead a club—see line C.
5. ♠8-♠Q-♠A!-♠6 this time North must win the first spade.
Now South can play any card except a black suit two. An alternative possibility is for East to ruff the second club:
C. 1. ♣Q-♣3-C6-♣K
5. ♠7-♠2-♠Q-♠A but better is to return the ♠3—see line D.
8. ♣A-♣8-♣5-♥6 if East ruffs with the ♠K North will get a diamond ruff
10. ♦K-♠4-? East can make only the ♠K
D. 5. ♠3-♠8!-♠Q-♠A first four tricks as in C.
8. ♣A-♣8-♣5-♥6 or South can lead the ♠J immediately
10. ♠7-♠2!-♣10-♠5 North’s hearts plus the ♠10 take the rest
The problem was inspired by the following deal that F.Y. Sing saw in a Chinese bridge book, Ni Hui Zuo Ma (Could You Make It?), published in 2000:
♠ Q ♠ K743
♥ K10 ♥ J87642
♦ QJ103 ♦ 72
♣ J107543 ♣ K
South to make four spades. West leads the ♠Q.
Although the solution given in the book showed declarer losing three spade tricks, this is not in fact necessary and the play is rather imprecise. Lowering the contract is a common composing technique to avoid dual solutions.
I employed a somewhat similar idea in Problem 195, composed in 1971.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2019