Double Dummy Corner

 

Competition Problem 187

composed by Steve Bloom 
presented for solving in October 2020

DR5

♠ KQJ8

 A932

 2

♣ 5432

♠ 10

 7654

 K987

♣ AKQ9

♠ 9765

 Q10

 J654

♣ 1087

♠ A432

KJ8

 AQ103

♣ J6

West leads the ♠10 to South's contract of five spades.
(a) With the cards as shown, how is the contract made?     
(b) What would be the effect of swapping the
A and K?

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Successful solvers:  Jim Berry, Sebastian Nowacki, A.V. Ramana Rao, Rajeswar Tewari, Andries van der Vegt, Dave Wiltshire.  These solvers were almost unanimous in suggesting DR4 but I'm adding a point because several submissions failed on part (b), typically falling into the trap mentioned below.

Solution

In both cases North wins the first trick and leads a club, South playing the J if and only if East plays the 10, thus keeping East off the lead.  West does best to switch to a heart.

(a) South wins as cheaply as possible (assume with the J) and loses another club to West.  North wins the heart return with the A, South dropping the K, and gives South a club ruff.  Three rounds of trumps, South discarding a diamond, now start a repeating squeeze on West, allowing declarer to win the next heart with the 9.  Declarer gets an extra winner in the suit West unguards and that winner repeats the squeeze.

(b) With the A and K swapped, if plays follows as in (a), then provided that East plays the 10 on the first round of hearts North cannot win both of the next two heart tricks and the contract fails.  So South tries winning the first heart with the A instead of the J, and will obviously succeed if West continues hearts.  But on winning the second club West rises to the occasion by returning the K!  Now the hearts are blocked as before and although South has been given a second diamond trick there is no heart-club squeeze to follow because North has to let go of a menace if South cashes the Q.

Trap: In (b), a low diamond from West instead of the K doesn't work.  South wins as cheaply as possible and now has various routes to an ending such as this, with South on lead:

♠ KQ8

 93

 none

♣ none

♠ none

 76

 K9

♣ A

♠ 976

 none

 J6

♣ none

♠ A4

8

 Q3

♣ none

Three rounds of trumps squeeze West in the red suits, South's 8 being an entry to the Q.

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Hugh Darwen, 2020
Date last modified: 10 November, 2020