Competition Problem 184
South to make six clubs against any lead.
Successful solvers: Franco Baseggio, Jim Berry, Ian Budden, Ed Lawhon, Steve McVea, Sebastian Nowacki, A.V. Ramana Rao, Rajeswar Tewari, Andries van der Vegt, Dick Yuen, Wim van der Zijden. This really boiled down to just a question of playing out the trumps and watching the discards, but solvers' DR suggestions varied wildly, averaging at just over 3.5.
In all lines North is entered on a diamond finesse to lead the ♣J. If East covers, South wins and goes back on the ♣9 to lead the ♠J (or ♠8 if the ♠J was played on West’s ♠9 at trick one); otherwise North stays on lead and plays the ♠J immediately. The run of the clubs then gives rise to a squeeze in which North’s red suit sevens and South’s ♠5 can all play a significant role.
A. On a heart lead and continuation South ruffs and leads a diamond to play as described. The run of the trumps produces a guard squeeze on West followed if necessary by a squeeze on East. North’s first three discards can be two diamonds and the ♠8 in any order, giving this position at trick nine with South about to lead the penultimate club:
North can spare a diamond, East a spade, but West, who obviously cannot afford a diamond, is triple-squeezed.
1. If West discards the ♥K, then the last club starts a nonsimultaneous double squeeze as West has to throw a spade. North’s remaining low diamond can now go away and the ♦A squeezes East in the major suits.
2. If West discards a spade, then the last club wrings the ♥K from West, whose remaining spade guards against a finesse of South’s ♠5 (thanks to the earlier unblock of the ♠8); but North throws the ♦7 and then the ♦A squeezes East as before.
B. On a spade lead West’s card is covered around the table as cheaply as possible. Winning with the ♠Q or ♠A as appropriate, South exits on the ♥10. Assuming West wins and continues the suit, play follows line A but this time North’s eventual lead of the ♠J isolates the guard of that suit in West, who is then easily squeezed in spades and diamonds.
C. On a diamond lead the play follows the usual line except that declarer does not give up an early heart trick. The squeeze then operates without the count in this position at trick eight with South to lead:
On the next club North discards a diamond, East a spade. On the last club West has to reduce to ♦K6 and two major suit cards. If these are
1. The ♥A and ♥9, then declarer makes the ♦A and two spades by finessing.
2. The ♠9 and either the ♠7 or the ♥9, then North discards the ♦7 and South leads the ♥10 to establish North’s ♥7.
3. The ♠9 and ♥A, then North discards the ♠4 and East is triple-squeezed: a spade discard gives South two spade tricks; a heart discard allows North’s ♥7 to be established; and if the ♦J is thrown, then South can run the ♦9, cash the ♠Q and put West in on the ♥A to score North’s ♦A (or the ♠Q, if West had covered the ♦9, though South could just as well cash the ♠Q before leading the ♦9).
D. On a club lead declarer can follow either of the lines A and C.
Hugh Darwen, 2020