Main   Challenge 7V41 by Richard Pavlicek  

Dog Days of Summer

As the summer lingers on, a spell of listlessness occurs for most people. Call it the blues, or doldrums, or dog days — the feeling is hard to explain, but it’s there. And so it happens in bridge: We all go through occasional spells of bad luck and bad cards.

Guess what? Now it’s your turn to hold the tram tickets. On each of these problems your hand is a real dog, yet fate has made you declarer. Fortunately, partner is a card rack, so the contracts are sound.

In August 2001 these problems were presented as a contest, which had 327 entrants from 83 locations. The contest is now closed, but you can still challenge yourself and find your score immediately. As South on each problem, just choose your play from options A-F. Each option is rated on a 1-to-10 scale based on my judgment.

Bidding is Standard American (except as noted) and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference on these agreements, see my dogma on Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

So why are you just sitting there? Time to get out of the doghouse and on with your life. If you apply a bit of dogged determination, you may win a fabulous prize*, but one little slip and you’re dog meat.

*Prizes include biscuits and flea collars. Winners must meet all eligibility requirements: (1) family Canidae, (2) house trained and (3) at least one year of obedience school. Employees of PavCo Kennels and their immediate family are ineligible. TopMain

Problem 1

IMPs N-S Vul

West
1 S
Pass
All Pass
North
Dbl
2 S
East
Pass
Pass
South
2 D
3 NT

3 NT South
S 5 3
H A K 4 3
D A K 3
C A Q 10 3
Lead: S ATableEast plays S 4
S Q 9 2
H 9 2
D Q J 9 6
C 7 6 5 4

At trick two West leads the H J, you win the king and East plays the seven. Your play?

  1. Cash four diamonds; finesse C Q
  2. Cash three diamonds; finesse C Q
  3. Win D A; D 3 to queen; finesse C Q
  4. Lead D 3 to queen; finesse C Q
  5. Win C A; D A; D 3 to queen; lead to C Q
  6. Win C A; lead D 3 to queen; lead to C Q
TopMain

Problem 2

IMPs E-W Vul

West

Pass
North

4 H
East

All Pass
South
2 H

4 H South
S A Q 9
H A K
D 4 3
C A 7 6 5 4 3
Lead: H 9TableEast plays H 2
S J 3 2
H Q J 10 6 5 4
D J 8 5
C 2

After winning the H K, how do you play?

  1. Win C A; ruff club; lead S J to queen
  2. Win C A; ruff club; lead S J and let it ride
  3. Win C A; ruff club; lead S 2 to queen
  4. Win C A; ruff club; lead S 2 to nine
  5. Win C A; ruff club; win H A
  6. Lead the C 3
TopMain

Problem 3

IMPs None Vul

West
Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 D
2 NT²
East
Pass
Pass
South
2 S¹
4 S
1. weak
2. artificial force

4 S South
S Q J
H 10 4
D A K J 9 4 2
C A K J
Lead: H QTableEast plays H K
S A 10 9 8 7 5
H 8 6 5
D 7
C 10 9 8

At trick two East leads the S 2 and it goes to dummy’s jack (West plays S 3). Your play?

  1. Lead S Q to the ace
  2. Lead S Q and let it ride
  3. Lead the H 10
  4. Win D A-K (no honor drops) to pitch heart; run S Q
  5. Win D A-K (no honor drops) to pitch heart; ruff diamond
  6. Win D A-K (no honor drops) to pitch club; ruff diamond
TopMain

Problem 4

Matchpoints Both Vul

West
1 S
Pass
All Pass
North
Dbl
Dbl
East
3 S*
Pass
South
Pass
5 C
*weak

5 C South
S A
H K 8 7 2
D A K 8 6 3
C A 5 2
Lead: S JTableEast plays S 9
S 8 6 2
H 4 3
D 7 4 2
C K Q J 4 3

After winning the S A, how do you play?

  1. Win D A-K; give up a diamond
  2. Win D A; duck a diamond
  3. Duck a diamond
  4. Win C K; heart to king; lead a heart
  5. Win C K; heart to king; win D A-K
  6. Win C K; heart to king; duck a diamond
TopMain

Problem 5

IMPs Both Vul

West
Pass
Pass
Pass
North
2 C
3 S
5 D
East
2 S
Pass
All Pass
South
Pass
4 D

5 D South
S 3
H A K 4 3
D A K Q J
C A K 7 6
Lead: D 2TableEast plays D 3
S 9 8 5 4
H 10
D 10 9 8 7
C 8 4 3 2

After winning the D A, how do you play?

  1. Lead the S 3
  2. Win H A-K (pitch spade); C A; ruff heart
  3. Win H A-K (pitch club); C A; ruff heart
  4. Win H A; C A; ruff heart; C K; give up a club
  5. Win C A-K; give up a club
  6. Duck a club
TopMain

Problem 6

Matchpoints None Vul

West
1 C
Pass
Pass
North
Dbl
2 C
6 H
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 H
4 H

6 H South
S A 5 4
H A K 6
D A K 5
C A 7 4 2
Lead: C KTableEast plays C 5
S Q J 6
H Q 9 7 5 3 2
D 7 3 2
C 6

Your play? (Enemy trumps split 2-2.)

  1. Win C A; H A-K; ruff club; lead S J
  2. Win C A; ruff club; H A; ruff club
  3. Duck; win C A (pitch spade); H A-K; lead trumps
  4. Duck; win C A (pitch diamond); H A-K; lead trumps
  5. Duck; ruff second club; lead S J
  6. Duck; ruff second club; win H A-K; D A-K

To see how you did click

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© 2001 Richard Pavlicek