Competition Problem 188
by Paolo Treossi
South is in four
spades. West leads the ♦4.
Successful solvers: Sebastian Nowacki, Rajeswar Tewari, Dave Wiltshire. See the traps described below.
The contract fails!
East wins with the ♦A and switches to the ♠6! South plays low and North’s ♠A captures the ♠Q. North tries a club to the ♣K, but West ducks. Declarer’s best shot now is to ruff a diamond and lead the ♥Q. This goes to the ♥K and ♥A, West dropping the ♥J. South now cashes the ♦K on which North throws a heart, and ruffs the last diamond, but West discards the ♥2, leaving this with North on lead:
South can try ruffing a club with the ♠9 and playing the ♠K, but West drops the ♠7 to avoid the throw-in which would give North two club tricks (and would also take place if West fails to unblock the ♥J).
1. If East continues diamonds at trick two, South wins with the ♦K, North discarding a low heart. The ♣K is allowed to hold as before and declarer then cross-ruffs a diamond and a club. On the next diamond West does best to discard a club, but in that case North throws a heart and East wins the trick. East has an easy exit on the ♥K, pinning North’s now bare ♥Q, but declarer plays a cross-ruff, during which the trump intermediates protect the contract from any ruffs the defenders might inject.
2. If East leads the ♠J at trick two, South wins with the ♠K, "cashes" the ♣K, then uses a trump finesse and a diamond ruff (in either order) to ruff a club and discard a heart on the ♣J. West wins and returns the ♠Q but North then plays the ♣10 nd another club, squeezing East in the red suits.
3. If West plays low on the trump return at trick two, North wins with the ♠8 and plays a club to the ♣K, which holds as before. Now, in some order, a diamond ruff, a club ruff and a trump to North's ♠A are followed by the ♣J to West's ♣A. Now a heart return, covered by North, allows declarer to make the rest but one on a cross-ruff, cashing the minor suit winners en route, whereas a spade return squeezes East in the red suits, allowing declarer to either set up a heart trick or throw East in with ♦K and another diamond.
Hugh Darwen, 2020