Competition Problem 158a
South to make four spades. West leads the ♣5.
Successful solvers: Steve Bloom, Ed Lawhon, Radu Mihai, Sebastian Nowacki, Zoran Sibinović, Rajeswar Tewari, Andries van der Vecht, Wim van der Zijden
North must play the ♣Q. East wins the trick and either returns a diamond, in which case West switches back to clubs, or leads another club. Other defences yield several paths to success for declarer.
A. If East returns a diamond and West leads another club, South ruffs a diamond with the ♠6, cashes a club on which North throws a heart, then plays a heart to North who advances the remaining diamond in this position:
1. If East discards a heart, South ruffs and plays a heart to the ♥A and another heart. East does best to ruff high but South refuses to overruff, either discarding the ♣J or under-ruffing. South wins the trump return in hand as cheaply as possible. The ♠K wins the next trick—ruffing the ♣J if that card is still held—and South wins the last two tricks with a trump tenace over East.
2. If East—better—ruffs high, South overruffs with the ♠A, crosses to the ♥A, ruffs a heart with the ♠7, then ruffs the ♣J with North’s ♠K. The reason for preserving South’s ♠4 now becomes apparent when North leads the ♠5 at trick eleven: when East plays low North retains the lead for a second lead towards the ♠108.
B. If East returns a club at trick two, North plays three rounds of hearts, South ruffing the third. North must now ruff South’s club winner and lead a fourth heart in this position:
1. If East ruffs high, South throws the diamond loser.
(a) After a trump return to North’s ♠K the next heart fixes East, South discarding the ♣J if East refuses to ruff. Now South can ruff a diamond and exit on a low trump, winning the last two tricks with the ♠A10.
(b) If East instead leads a diamond, South ruffs and can either lead a spade to the ♠K or ruff the ♣J with it. Again East makes only one more trick.
2. If East ruffs low, South overruffs and leads a black card to North’s ♠K. North’s heart lead leaves East helpless as before.
3. If East discards, South can either discard a loser or, more spectacularly, ruff low and ruff the ♣J with the ♠K to fix East with another heart lead.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2018