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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… 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 is Patch, and the stakes are 10 dollars a point. Chicago.” Fearful of refusing, you sit South. Surprisingly, you have a great run of cards and declare the first six deals. The bad news is the Captain (West) keeps eyeing Patch with an evil glare. Something is afoul and you 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, 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 (or as noted) and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference see 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.

Problem 1

Chicago Scoring
None Vul
S K Q 5 3
H 6 3
D A J 10 6 3
C K J
Captain
West

Pass
Pass
Patch
North
1 D
1 S
3 NT
Shipmate
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
You
South
1 H
2 NT
Lead: S JTableEast plays S 2



3 NT South
S A 4
H Q 10 8 7
D K 5 4
C A 10 6 3

A. Win S K; lead H 3 to eight
B. Win S K; run the D J
C. Win S K; run the C J
D. Win S A; S K; run the D J
E. Win S A; D A; run the D J
F. Win S A; D K; finesse D J

Problem 2

Chicago Scoring
E-W Vul
S J 6 4 2
H 9 7 2
D 5 4 2
C A 6 5
Captain
West

Dbl
All Pass
Patch
North

2 S
Shipmate
East
Pass
4 H
You
South
1 S
4 S
Lead: H KTableEast plays H Q



4 S South
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. You ruff then cash the S A, and West drops the queen. What next?

A. Win S K; S J; lead D 2 to jack
B. Win S K; duck a diamond
C. Win S J; lead D 2 to jack
D. Win S J; duck a diamond
E. Win D A; S J; lead D 2
F. Win D A; duck a diamond

Problem 3

Chicago Scoring
N-S Vul
S A 7 5
H A 2
D 10 6 5 4 2
C K J 2
Captain
West

Pass
Pass
Patch
North

1 D
3 NT
Shipmate
East

Pass
All Pass
You
South
1 C
1 NT
Lead: H 6TableEast plays H 7



3 NT South
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 D 3, West the D 7). What next?

A. Lead S 3 to ace
B. Lead the D Q
C. Lead the D 8
D. Win C A; lead C 4 to jack
E. Lead C 4 to king
F. Lead C 4 to jack

Problem 4

Chicago Scoring
Both Vul
S K Q 9 2
H 10 9 8
D A 5 4
C J 6 3
Captain
West
1 D
3 C
All Pass
Patch
North
Pass
3 H
Shipmate
East
1 NT
Pass
You
South
2 H
4 H
Lead: D KTableEast plays D J



4 H South
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 D 7. On the H 10 East plays low. Your play?

A. Win H Q; lead S 10 to king; lead H 9
B. Win H Q; lead S 10 to king; ruff diamond
C. Win H Q; lead C K
D. Win H 10; lead S K and unblock 10
E. Win H 10; draw the missing trumps
F. Win H 10; ruff diamond; lead S 10 to king

Note: West is void in hearts.

Problem 5

Chicago Scoring
None Vul
S K 4 3
H Q 5 4 3
D A 10 4
C A 3 2
Captain
West

1 S
Pass
All Pass
Patch
North

2 S
3 H
Shipmate
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
You
South
1 H
2 NT
4 H
Lead: C KTableEast plays C 10



4 H South
S A 5 2
H A K J 7 6
D J 3 2
C 6 4

You duck, then West leads the C J won by dummy’s ace (East plays the C 5).
You win the H A and H Q; West (void) pitches the S 6 and D 5. What next?

A. Ruff club; S K; S A; spade
B. Ruff club; H K; S K; S A; spade
C. Ruff club; run the D J
D. Ruff club; lead D 2 to 10
E. Lead C 3 and pitch a spade
F. Lead C 3 and pitch a diamond

Problem 6

Chicago Scoring
N-S Vul
S J 9 5
H K 9
D A Q 10
C A K J 9 4
Captain
West

Pass
Pass
Patch
North

1 C
4 S1
Shipmate
East

Pass
All Pass
You
South
Pass
1 S
Lead: H 5TableEast captures
H K with H A



4 S South
S K Q 10 4 3
H 4 3 2
D 4 3
C 7 6 5

1. What else. You’re on a roll.

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

A. Win S K; lead D 4 to queen
B. Win S K; lead D 4 to 10
C. Win S K; lead C 7 to jack
D. Win S 9; lead S 5
E. Win S 9; lead H 9
F. Win S 9; C A; lead S 5

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek