Competition Problem 113a
South to make three hearts. West leads the ♦J
Successful solvers: Jean-Marc Bihl, Steve Bloom, Ian Budden, Leigh Matheson, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, Andries van der Vegt, Dick Yuen, Wim van der Zijden Tables
For the record, this problem was derived from Problem 61 in George Coffin’s Sure Tricks. That problem, a 10-carder, was found to be very unsound and so does not appear in my Coffin collection.
East must win with the ♦A and return a minor suit. North wins the second trick and then the play goes: heart finesse, spade finesse, second spade, second heart to South, spade ruff, third heart to East, South discarding a club. We now have one of two similar 5-card endings, depending on which suit was returned at trick 2:
In both cases East is on lead with North-South needing three more tricks. If East leads a spade, then declarer wins and in case A plays ♣A and another club, when either North will make an extra club or South the ♦Q; in case B a diamond ruff and club exit have the same effect. If East instead leads a club, then in case A North wins and plays a second club, after which either South makes the ♦Q and ♠9 or, when East rises with the ♣K, North makes two more club tricks; in case B the ♣Q is allowed to hold and so is the ♦K, after which the ♦Q, ♠9 and ♥9 take the last three tricks. Finally, if East leads the ♦2 in case B, North ruffs and if East rises with the ♣K on the next trick, South discards the ♠9! (otherwise South discards a diamond and later makes the ♦Q and ♠9).
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2014