Competition Problem 129b
South to make two no-trumps. West leads the ♦Q.
Successful solvers: Sorry. This was expected to be easier but most solvers assumed a spade return at trick two. Congratulations, therefore, to the only successful solver, Zoran Sibinović. Tables
Thanks to the pressure brought about on Eastís discards by Northís ♦K, declarer has an easy ride unless East switches to a low heart at trick 2. South wins with the ♥J and must immediately lead the ♠3! West rises with the ♠J to lead a second heart.
A. If East has parted with the ♠2, North plays low, as does East. If West now leads
1. a diamond to Northís ♦K, East safely parts with a club but North leads the ♣10 to pin Westís ♣98. After three club tricks and two taken by Southís top spades, East is thrown in on the last spade to concede two heart tricks to Northís ♥AQ.
2. a spade, South wins and can lead either a diamond or high club, then a diamond if it wins. Thereafter the play follows line 1.
B. If East has retained the ♠2, North wins with the ♥A and leads the ♠10, covered by East and South (who now has a tenace over Eastís ♠82). A diamond to Northís ♦K follows and declarer takes note of Eastís discard.
1. If it is a club, then Northís ♣10 lead now ensures two tricks in that suit. Eastís ♣A wins this or the next trick and the third club is Eastís only immediately safe exit, but Southís ♠A and ♠6 finally force East to lead away from the ♥K10.
2. If it is the ♥10, then East is immediately thrown in on a heart. If East now returns a spade, South can win two spade tricks, North throwing the two good hearts (!) and then play clubs from the top, losing just two club tricks. A low club return gives declarer an overtrick with the ♣10 and two hearts but note carefully that if East cashes the ♣A, South must drop an honour under it!
1. In line B, if North cashes the ♦K at trick 5 instead of leading the ♠10, East discards the ♥10! The play in B.2 now fails when East returns the ♠Q. South wins and tries two more rounds of spades, but to keep a heart winner North has to discard a club on one of these, allowing East to win the third and exit on the ♣J!
2. If South leads a high club at trick 3, it is allowed to win. Southís spade exit is now too late, as East plays a middle one under Westís ♠J and West exits in hearts. If North plays low, a spade comes next. South can aim for the throw-in but it fails when East hangs on to the ♠2. Alternatively, if North rises with the ♥A, then line B fails when East again discards the ♥10 on the ♦Kóand if South tries the throw-in without first cashing the ♦K, then East can take the fourth spade and exit safely in clubs.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2015