Main   Challenge 7X01 by Richard Pavlicek  

The Lake Erie Ghost Ship

It’s dusk, as you skim across the murky waters of Lake Erie in your yacht… then you see it. Out of the shadowy mist pops the surreal image of a ghost ship. Your heart pounds, as you doubt your senses, but your curiosity won’t let you retreat. Instinctively, you cut your engines and drift cautiously along its port side. You listen… but hear nothing, so you tie up to the gangway and board.

Again you listen… and the only sound you hear is the creaking of the booms.

Removing your shoes to walk quietly, you make your way midship. Still nothing. Bravely, you walk down into the hold, past the captain’s quarters, through the galley, and come to a bulkhead door. Fear races through your mind as you summon your last ounce of courage… and open it.

“Welcome,” says the Captain. “Your partner will be Patch, and the stakes are 10 dollars a point. Chicago.” Fearful of what might happen if you refuse, you sit South as Patch deals. Surprisingly, you have a good run of cards and declare the first six deals. The bad news is the Captain (West) keeps eyeing Patch with an evil glare. You just know something is afoul and wonder if you’ll ever leave the ship alive. Oh well. Good bridge comes first.

In October 2002 these problems were presented as a contest, which had 662 entrants from 100 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 (or as noted) and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference on these agreements, see my summary of Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

The evening fog has rolled in, so you may as well stay and give it a try. If you make it out alive, you might even win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes include 13 “Who you gonna call?” GhostBusters T-shirts, and 666 tickets to the movie Ghost Ship. Employees and non-employees of PavCo Institute of the Paranormal are ineligible. TopMain

Problem 1

Chicago None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North
1 D
1 S
3 NT
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 H
2 NT

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

Your play?

  1. Win S K; lead H 3 to eight
  2. Win S K; run the D J
  3. Win S K; run the C J
  4. Win S A; S K; run the D J
  5. Win S A; D A; run the D J
  6. Win S A; D K; finesse D J
TopMain

Problem 2

Chicago E-W Vul

West

Dbl
All Pass
North

2 S
East
Pass
4 H
South
1 S
4 S

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

West next leads the H 8 to East’s 10 and you ruff. You then cash the S A and West drops the queen. What now?

  1. Win S K; S J; lead D 2 to jack
  2. Win S K; duck a diamond
  3. Win S J; lead D 2 to jack
  4. Win S J; duck a diamond
  5. Win D A; S J; lead D 2
  6. Win D A; duck a diamond
TopMain

Problem 3

Chicago N-S Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North

1 D
3 NT
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 C
1 NT

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

You win the H A and lead a diamond to the king (East plays the three and West the seven). What next?

  1. Lead S 3 to ace
  2. Lead the D Q
  3. Lead the D 8
  4. Win C A; lead C 4 to jack
  5. Lead C 4 to king
  6. Lead C 4 to jack
TopMain

Problem 4

Chicago Both Vul

West
1 D
3 C
All Pass
North
Pass
3 H
East
1 NT
Pass
South
2 H
4 H
West is void in hearts.

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

You duck and West leads the D 6, won in dummy, as East plays the seven. On the H 10 East plays low. You?

  1. Win H Q; lead S 10 to king; lead H 9
  2. Win H Q; lead S 10 to king; ruff diamond
  3. Win H Q; lead C K
  4. Win H 10; lead S K and unblock 10
  5. Win H 10; draw the missing trumps
  6. Win H 10; ruff diamond; lead S 10 to king
TopMain

Problem 5

Chicago None Vul

West

1 S
Pass
All Pass
North

2 S
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
2 NT
4 H

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

You win the second club in dummy, then the H A and H Q; West (void) pitches S 6, D 5. What now?

  1. Ruff club; S K; S A; spade
  2. Ruff club; H K; S K; S A; spade
  3. Ruff club; run the D J
  4. Ruff club; lead D 2 to 10
  5. Lead C 3 and pitch a spade
  6. Lead C 3 and pitch a diamond
TopMain

Problem 6

Chicago N-S Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North

1 C
4 S*
East

Pass
All Pass
South
Pass
1 S
*What else. You’re on a roll.

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

East pauses a bit then leads the S 2 (West will play the S 6). Which spade do you win and what next?

  1. Win S K; lead D 4 to queen
  2. Win S K; lead D 4 to 10
  3. Win S K; lead C 7 to jack
  4. Win S 9; lead S 5
  5. Win S 9; lead H 9
  6. Win S 9; C A; lead S 5

To see how you did click

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek