Competition Problem 189
by Steve Bloom
In each of the following layouts South is declarer in four spades and West leads a spade. In each case, state whether the contract is made or defeated and show how that is done.
Successful solvers: Franco Baseggio, Jim Berry, Ian Budden, Ed Lawhon, Steve McVea, Sebastian Nowacki, Rajeswar Tewari, Wim van der Zijden. Suggested DRs were nearly all 4 or 5, with just one going higher at 6 or 7. Some solvers incorrectly thought the contract failed in A, others in B.
Here the contract makes. North wins the opening lead, East doing best not to cover, and plays the ♥9, covered around the table by the ♥10, ♥Q, and ♥K. Winning West’s spade return, South runs the ♣J round to East's ♣Q. On the low diamond return North captures West’s ♦Q with the ♦A and cashes the ♣A on which South discards the diamond loser. Now South ruffs a club and exits on the ♥6 to East, North discarding a club. East is endplayed such that one of the two red suit jacks will make declarer’s tenth trick.
It makes no difference if West covers the ♣J. North wins with the ♣A and immediately exits on a low club. East might win this trick and try the ♦K, but North merely ducks and East now has to concede the tenth trick in one of the red suits. If East has dropped the ♣Q under the ♣A and West overtakes the ♣6 to return a high diamond, North’s clubs can be established.
Again the contract makes. The order of play is imprecise but for example, having won the opening lead, North can play the ♣A, ruff a club, cash the ♠A, and exit on a low heart to East’s ♥10. South’s ♥Q on the heart return draws West’s ♥K, ruffed by North. South ruffs another club and plays the remaining spades, North discarding clubs as West comes down to three diamonds and the ♣K to give this ending with East still to discard:
1. If East discards a diamond, South plays a diamond to the ♦A. If East plays low, that hand is endplayed on a diamond so that South makes a heart trick; otherwise, West is endplayed on a club so that North makes a diamond trick.
2. If East discards the ♥8, South’s heart exit forces a diamond from West, such that on a low diamond return (the ♦K would be allowed to hold) North captures West’s ♦Q and leads the ♦J to score a trick with either that or the ♦6.
Note that if West keeps a heart and so has only two diamonds in the above ending, South leads a diamond for an avoidance play, North playing the ♦A on the ♦Q or the ♦J on the ♦10. After winning the ♦K East has to make a fatal red suit lead.
Hugh Darwen, 2020