Main   Challenge 7V73 by Richard Pavlicek  

Keep the Ship Afloat

Much of the battle in the card play as declarer is to keep your ship afloat. Defenders are like icebergs lurking in the night; if you don’t stay alert, they’ll rock your keel and deep-six the contract. One can only wonder that if contract bridge had been invented 90 years ago, history might have been rewritten on that fateful night in April. Are you ready to play bridge? Or shall we just save time and man the lifeboats?

In April of 2002 these problems were presented as a contest, which had 687 entrants from 101 locations. The contest is now closed, but you can still challenge yourself and find your score immediately. As South on each of the six problem, 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, and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference on these agreements, see my outline of Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

So take over the helm for some rough waters ahead. If you can make it back to port, you’re a hero. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Do it full steam ahead, and you might win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes include a completely restored 23-foot propeller blade and a barnacled keg of 96-year-old Champagne. Winners must be at least 18 years of age and a direct descendant of an RMS Titanic passenger (First Class only). Employees of PavCo Maritime Salvage are ineligible. TopMain

Problem 1

IMPs N-S Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North

1 D
3 NT
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 C
1 NT

3 NT South
S 6 5
H K J 8
D A Q J 10 4
C Q J 4
Lead: S KTableEast plays S 10
S A 4 2
H A Q
D 8 5 3
C K 8 6 5 3

Your play? (If you duck the first trick, West leads the S Q and East plays the S 3.)

  1. Win first spade; lead D 3 to queen
  2. Win first spade; lead C 3 to jack
  3. Win second spade; lead D 3 to queen
  4. Win second spade; lead C 3 to jack
  5. Win third spade; lead D 3 to queen
  6. Win third spade; lead C 3 to jack
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Problem 2

IMPs E-W Vul

West

Pass
All Pass
North
1 D
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
4 H

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

At trick two East leads the C 6, West plays the eight, and you ruff low in dummy. Your play?

  1. Lead the S K
  2. Lead the S 10
  3. Win H K; lead spade to king
  4. Win H K; lead spade to 10
  5. Win H Q; H K; lead spade to king
  6. Win H Q; H K; lead spade to 10
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Problem 3

Matchpoints None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North
1 C
1 NT
3 S
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
2 D
4 S (AP)

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

OK, so you bid a lot. Now shut up and select your play:

  1. Win H A; D A-K; duck a trump
  2. Win H A; D A-K; lead the C Q
  3. Win H A; lead the C 4
  4. Win H K; duck a trump
  5. Win H K; H A; ruff a heart
  6. Win H K; lead club to queen
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Problem 4

IMPs Both Vul

West

3 C
All Pass
North

Dbl
East

5 C
South
1 D
5 D

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

You ruff the first trick and lead a diamond to the queen, both following. Your play?

  1. Win S K; S A
  2. Ruff club; win S K; S A
  3. Ruff club; win S K; lead spade to nine
  4. Ruff club; lead spade to jack
  5. Ruff club; lead spade to seven
  6. Ruff club; win D J; lead spade to nine
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Problem 5

Matchpoints N-S Vul

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

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

You ruff the first trick and cash the S A; West follows with the five and East the nine. Your play?

  1. Win S K; lead the H 2
  2. Win S K; lead the C K
  3. Win S 10; lead the H 3
  4. Win S 10; lead C 3 to king
  5. Lead the H 2
  6. Lead the C K
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Problem 6

IMPs Both Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North

1 H
6 NT
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 C
2 NT

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

Your play?

  1. Win H A-Q-J-10; D K; D Q
  2. Win H A; lead C J and let it ride
  3. Win H A; lead C 3 to nine
  4. Win H K; D K; D A
  5. Win H K; D K; D Q
  6. Win H K; lead C 4 to jack

To see how you did click

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek