Competition Problem 114a
by Wim van der Zijden
South is in three no-trumps. What lead defeats the contract and how is it made against other leads?
Successful solvers: Jean-Marc Bihl, Steve Bloom, Ian Budden, Wing-Kai Hon, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, Andries van der Vegt, Dick Yuen Tables
A low club lead defeats the contract. Otherwise:
A. Against a high club lead South wins and will make the contract by endplaying West in the black suits. Several orders of play are available. For example, South can lead another club at trick two, allowing Westís ♣9 to win. Southís spade and red suit winners are cashed, ending in North (otherwise West can unguard clubs), forcing West down to two clubs and three spades. North exits on a spade and eventually gets a club lead into the ♣A8 tenace.
A low club lead defeats this play because North will not have a club tenace at the end.
B. Against a spade lead and continuation, South holds up until the third round and then plays to give up two diamond tricks to East and squeeze West in the black suits. Several orders of play are available to achieve this effect.
A low club lead defeats this play because Northís ♣A, needed for communication in the squeeze ending, can be knocked out prematurely.
C. Against the lead of the ♦K, South wins with the ♦A and immediately loses a spade. If spades are continued South ducks and plays follows line B. So West returns a high club to the ♣K. South then ducks a diamond to East, who returns the suit to Northís ♦Q. North leads a low heart and South wins the trick as cheaply as possible. (Those last two tricks are reversed if East returns a heart instead of a diamond.) Now East is thrown in with the last diamond and South just covers the forced heart return, subjecting West to a seesaw squeeze. If West comes down to two clubs, North plays low to retain the ♥A as entry after conceding a club trick; otherwise West comes down to two spades and North overtakes so that South has a heart entry after conceding a spade trick.
The play is similar if West leads a high spade and switches to a (high) club. South wins cashes the ♦A and ducks a diamond.
A low club lead defeats this play because when South exits at trick two with a low spade several defences are available, one of them being for East to win with the ♠10 and return a heart, followed by a second heart on gaining the lead in diamonds.
Variations: On a spade lead, ducked, the best defence is a high club continuation (on a low club, South can duck, leading to a simple black suit squeeze against West). Play reverts to C, but here also Westís best defence is to play a high club. Furthermore, if East returns a heart after winning the diamond at trick four, South finesses and now the ♦Q and a low diamond follow (so, Northís play after winning the ♦Q depends on Eastís earlier return).
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2014