Competition Problem 53
West leads the ♣9 against South’s contract of five spades. At trick three, declarer has two strong attempts for the contract. How do East-West thwart these tries? How would declarer succeed against less than perfect defence?
Successful solvers: Rajeswar Tewari, Wim van der Zijden.
There would be eleven top tricks, were it not for the black suit blockages and the shortage of entries to South, needed to finesse trumps and possibly to lead the first diamond towards the ♦K (aiming for a red suit endgame against West). Additionally, there are squeeze chances against East in hearts and clubs, if the heart guard can be transferred to East by leading the ♥Q.
South wins with the ♣10 and leads a spade, covered in turn by West and North.
A. If North leads a club, East must play low!
1. If North wins and leads a low spade, West wins and returns a high spade! If North now plays all the trumps, South is squeezed before West; if North instead wins just two trumps and leads a club, the last club squeezes North out of a diamond, allowing West to rise safely with the ♦A and return the suit.
2. If South overtakes and leads a spade, West covers and North wins. The best try now is for North to lead the ♦K, but West allows this to win, dropping the ♦10! ♠A and another spade now forces West to lead away from the ♥K, but that still makes only ten tricks and there is no play for an eleventh.
B. If North leads the ♦K at trick 3, West plays the ♦10 as in A.2. This time East covers the second club. Three rounds of spades follow, but West exits with a low heart, removing South’s heart entry while clubs are still blocked.
If, in A, East covers the second club, South wins and plays a spade. North wins two spades and leads a club, running it if East pays low. If North wins this trick, West is thrown in immediately with a spade; otherwise, either West ruffs it or South wins it and plays a diamond to the ♦Q before throwing West in. In each case West’s return concedes a red suit trick and gives South an entry to the fourth club.
If, in B, West wins the first diamond and returns a club, South wins (even if East plays low!) and leads a spade, covered by West and North. South comes to hand on a diamond and pays a third spade. If this wins, South follows with the ♥Q to ♥K and ♥A, whereupon the last two spades squeeze East without the count in hearts and clubs. If instead West covers the third spade, North wins and plays out the trumps, triple-squeezing East. A club discard gives the eleventh trick right away; a heart discard gives it after South comes to hand on a club to lead the ♥Q; and a diamond discard allows West to be thrown in with a diamond to lead away from the ♥K. The same play arises if West returns a diamond instead of a club at trick 4.
If, in B, West plays the ♦7 at trick 3, a club to the ♣J and ♣Q follows, then a spade to the ♠J and ♠Q and a diamond from North, South playing low unless East rises with the ¨J, keeping East off the lead. West does best to win two diamonds and exit on a low spade, but South wins and leads the ♥Q to the ♥K and ♥A, whereupon the remaining spades squeeze East in hearts and clubs. If West exits on a high spade instead of a low one, North just runs the spades to squeeze East before South.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
© Hugh Darwen, 2009
Date last modified: 15 April, 2017