Competition Problem 171b
to make five no-trumps. West leads the ♦8.
Successful solvers: Steve McVea, A.V. Ramana Rao, Zoran Sibinović, Rajeswar Tewari, Andries van der Vegt. I refused to accept solutions that specified the ♠K from East at trick two in part (a), as that made me assume they would play low on the ♠10. In part (b) several missed the need for a middle spade discard by East on the third club. None of the three solvers suggested a DR higher than 4 but I'm giving them an extra point or so for care.
(a) The lead of the ♦8 is covered by the ♦10 and Eastís ♦J is allowed to hold the trick. East continues with the ♠10 (best, as it gives declarer a losing option). South wins with the ♠Q, then leads the ♣J, which holds the trick, followed by a low club for a finesse of the ♣10 (the play is in effect the same if West covers the first club). Declarer cashes the ♣A and ♦K, crosses to the ♦A, and cashes the ♣K, discarding Northís blocking diamond. East does best to discard middle spades and one heart, leaving this position with South on lead:
South cashes the ♦4 to squeeze East. A heart discard allows Northís suit to be established by ducking but if East discards a spade, then the ♠A is cashed and the ♥9 is led even if Westís ♥J is now bare. North covers if necessary and takes the last two tricks when East has to win this trick and lead into the remaining tenace.
(b) On the lead of the ♣8 South plays the ♣J. West must cover with the ♣Q. North wins and cashes the ♣10 and ♣9. East must discard a middle spade. North leads the ♠J. East must cover with the ♠K. South wins, cashes the ♣K, North discarding a diamond, and leads a low diamond to the ♦8, ♦10, and Eastís ♦J. East must return a high spade. Declarer wins, North throwing a heart, plays a diamond to the ♦K, crosses back to the ♦A, and cashes the last diamond. In discarding on these tricks West must retain the ♠7, and East must discard his last high spade, retaining the ♠6 and the guarded ♥K. The defence will then come to two more tricks.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2019