Competition Problem 172
South to make four no-trumps. West leads the ♣10.
Successful solvers: Franco Baseggio, Steve Bloom, Steve McVea, Sebastian Nowacki, Zoran Sibinović, F.Y. Sing, Rajeswar Tewari, Wim van der Zijden. Several solvers assumed that West's "best" defence was to duck the first spade, win the second, and return a club, but in line B.2 below it is not then true that South must win the second club. I have slightly reluctantly accepted such solutions where they opt for winning it, thus giving the end position required in B.2.
Declarer wins the opening lead, crosses to North on the ♥A and leads the ♦9.
A. If East plays low, the ♦9 wins and North leads a spade for the finesse. West does best to win with the ♠A and return a club. Declarer can either win this or let East do so. In either case South then scores the ♠K, the ♦A, and optionally a top heart if two are still held. West does best to discard a club and a spade but is squeezed anyway when South advances the ♦Q in this position:
1. A heart discard lets South play the remaining top heart(s) and throw East in on a heart so that Northís ♦K scores declarerís tenth trick.
2. A club discard lets South lose a club to West, who must lead a heart either immediately or after cashing a spade. The remaining club wins declarerís tenth trick.
3. A spade discard lets North overtake with the ♦K and score two spade tricks for the contract.
B. If East covers the ♦9, South wins with the ♦A and leads the ♦7. West does best to discard a spade and a club, in which case North must overtake with the ♦8.
1. If East wins with the ♦J and returns (best) the ♣Q, South must duck, win the heart switch (best) and overtake the ♦Q in North to score two more diamonds. North discards a spade on the second heart, South a heart and a club on the long diamonds. After a spade finesse then loses to West South wins the last three tricks with the ♣A, ♥K and ♠K.
2. If East ducks the ♦8, the ♠J is finessed, West doing best to win and lead another club. This time South must win the second club. The position is now
After the cash of the ♠K the position is effectively as shown in line A.
The original problem by Ernest Pawle (shown below) involved the same ending but the play was too imprecise for me to include it in the archive.
South to make four no-trumps. West leads the ♥J.
After a heart lead, followed by the ♦9 to ♦10 and ♦Q, then the ♦7 to the ♦8 that holds, then a spade to the ♠J and ♠A and club return we have
at which point South can lead any card except the ♦K or ♥3. Note that a club lead, overtaken by East, would defeat four no-trumps when play follows line B.1 above, because West wins the second club and returns the suit. Paolo Treossiís correction allows the club lead to be specified, making the play precise apart from the optional cashing of the second heart that I have noted above.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2019