Competition Problem 174
South’s contract is one diamond. East-West to defeat it.
Successful solvers: Franco Baseggio, Steve Bloom, Ian Budden, Sebastian Nowacki, Rajeswar Tewari, Andries van der Vegt. DR4 was the popular choice and also the average of solvers’ suggestions, but I did receive a fair number of incorrect solutions.
The aim is to attack North’s entries before the ♠Q can be established for the seventh trick. So the opening lead must be a heart and in fact West must lead the ♥J! North wins and does best to play a trump. West must win this and lead the ♥5. Declarer takes this in either hand and leads another trump. East must win with the ♦A and leads another heart to West’s ♥A. Here is the position at trick six:
West must lead a low spade.
A. If North plays low, East wins with the ♠K and exits to South on a diamond. However many diamond tricks South now wins, West discards spades and the defence will come to three club tricks.
B. If North plays the ♠A and leads the ♥K, East ruffs. Declarer’s best try is to overruff and lead a club.
1. If it is a low club to North’s ♣Q, East wins with the ♣K and either returns the suit or puts South in with a diamond. In either case, West wins the next club as cheaply as possible and, now down to the top club and ♠J10, returns a spade through North’s ♠Q8. Ruffing with the last trump, South has to give up a third club and the defence has a spade winner to score at trick thirteen.
2. If it is the ♣J, West wins and leads a high spade with similar effect.
If South leads the ♠9 instead of a diamond at trick four, West plays low. When North does the same, East wins with the ♠K and leads a heart to West’s ♥A. West returns a diamond and the defenders will come to three club tricks as above.
1. If West leads the ♥5 at trick one, South wins and leads the ♠9. If West plays low, so does North and declarer will come to two spade tricks with an entry to North in hearts. So West covers the ♠9, but North wins with the ♠A. Now neither defender can safely lead a spade. West can let the second heart win, take the third and lead the ♦K for three rounds of trumps but when East wins the first club and forces South to ruff the ♠K, each defender now has a spade loser and North makes the ♠Q at trick thirteen.
2. A similar result arises if West covers South’s ♠9 at trick four, and also if West leads the ♠J instead of a low one at trick six in the given solution.
3. If East wins the first diamond and returns a heart, South wins in hand (as West must duck again) and leads the ♠9. With the now bare ♦K and ♥A, West is bound to be endplayed into letting North in to score the major suit winners.
See the solution to Competition Problem #4 for the recommended tabular format if you prefer not to write in English prose.
Hugh Darwen, 2019