Main   Challenge 7V25 by Richard Pavlicek  

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When the Bluebird Sings

“Slams are all around me — in each flower, each tree
and in each song the bluebird sings.” -RP

The above quote is from “The Slam Seed,” my most recent manuscript on the evolution of slam bidding. Alas, my publisher rejected it saying he didn’t need any more “birdseed crap.” Oh well; his loss. I’ll be the bluebird of happiness when Hollywood filmmakers snatch it up. So there!

This is a declarer-play challenge on six slam contracts. As South just choose your play from options A-F. Each option is rated on a 1-to-10 scale based on my judgment.

In April of 2001 these problems were presented as a contest, which had 226 entrants from 75 locations. The contest is now closed, but you can still challenge yourself and find your score immediately.

Bidding is Standard American (except as noted) and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference see outline of Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

Take a deep breath and smell the flowers, watch the trees sway in the breeze, and listen for the bluebird. Will it sing for you? Find out as you play these hands. And who knows? If you play your cards right, you might win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes include bird-feeder kits and a lifetime supply of birdseed. Winners must be at least 18 years
of age and a medically certified birdbrain. Employees of PavCo Aviary Rentals are ineligible.

Problem 1

IMPs
N-S Vul
S A Q 3
H J 9 7 3
D Q 2
C Q J 10 9
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

1 H
4 C
5 NT1
East

Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 D
3 C
4 D
6 C
Lead: D 3TableEast plays D J



6 C South
S 5
H A Q
D A K 7 6 5 4
C A K 5 4

1. pick a slam

After winning the D Q, what next?

A. Win S A; ruff spade high; C Q; ruff spade high
B. Win S A; ruff spade high; C Q; lead D 2
C. Lead H 3 and finesse the queen
D. Lead the D 2
E. Win C Q; lead D 2
F. Win C Q-J; lead D 2

Problem 2

Matchpoints
E-W Vul
S A 9 8 4
H A K Q 9
D 9 8 7 6
C 4
West

Pass
Pass
North

1 H
6 D
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 D
2 NT
Lead: C 3TableEast plays C 10



6 D South
S Q 10 3
H 6 5
D A K Q 10 5
C A K 2

After winning the C A, what next?

A. Ruff a club; lead a diamond
B. Win D A; ruff a club; lead a diamond
C. Win D A-K; ruff a club; lead a diamond
D. Win D A-K; ruff a club; cash S A
E. Win D A-K; lead a heart and finesse the nine
F. Draw trumps; lead S Q and let it ride

Problem 3

IMPs
None Vul
S A 4 3
H A K Q 3
D
C A K 6 4 3 2
West

Pass
Pass
North
1 C
4 D1
6 H
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 H
4 H
Lead: D 4Table



6 H South
S Q 10 7
H J 10 9 8
D Q 10 7 5
C Q 5

1. splinter bid

A. Discard a spade from dummy
B. Ruff high; lead S 3
C. Ruff high; cash H K; lead S 3
D. Ruff high; cash H K; lead H 3
E. Ruff high; win C Q; lead C 5
F. Ruff low; cash C A; lead C 2

Problem 4

Matchpoints
N-S Vul
S A K 2
H A Q 5 4 3
D 10 7 4 3 2
C
West

2 S1
Pass
North

3 H
6 S
East

4 NT
All Pass
South
1 S
5 D
Lead: C 7Table



6 S South
S Q J 10 9 8
H K 2
D A J
C Q 5 3 2

1. Michaels (hearts + minor)

A. Discard a heart from dummy
B. Ruff high; win H K; ruff club high
C. Ruff high; lead D 2 to ace; lead D J
D. Ruff high; lead D 2 and finesse jack
E. Ruff low; lead D 2 to ace; ruff club; lead D 3
F. Ruff low; lead D 2 and finesse jack

Note: No honor drops if you win the D A.

Problem 5

Matchpoints
Both Vul
S K
H A K J 9 2
D 5 2
C A K J 9 2
West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 H
3 C
4 C
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
3 D
6 NT
Lead: D 10TableEast plays D 6



6 NT South
S A Q 6 3 2
H 10 3
D A K Q 4 3
C 10

After winning the D A, what next?

A. Win S K; lead H 2
B. Win S K; cash H A-K
C. Lead H 10 and let it ride
D. Lead H 3 and finesse the jack
E. Lead H 3 and finesse the nine
F. Lead C 10 and let it ride

Problem 6

IMPs
None Vul
S A K 9
H 3
D Q 6 5 4
C K 9 8 7 4
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
North

1 NT1
4 C
4 NT
5 D
7 C
East

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 H
3 C
4 D
5 C
5 H
Lead: S 6Table



7 C South
S J
H A K Q 8 2
D A 8 2
C A Q 6 5

1. forcing

A. Duck spade lead to the jack
B. Win S A; ruff a spade
C. Win S A-K (pitch diamond); ruff a spade
D. Win S A; H A; ruff heart with C 9
E. Win S A; cash C K
F. Win S A; lead C 9 to the ace

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© 2001 Richard Pavlicek