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Visions of Sugar Plums

What would be sweeter than a friendly lead? Six of them! As declarer on each of these problems, you may think it is Christmas after seeing the first trick — and in some cases you will need all the help you can get.

But be careful! What first looks like a sugarplum might actually be a Greek gift.

In December 2002 these six problems were presented as a contest, which had 637 entrants from 94 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 per my judgment.

Bidding is Standard American and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference see Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

In the words of the Great One, “How sweet it is… and a-way we go!” You might even win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes include a lifetime supply of sugarplum fairies and gingerbread men. Winners must be at least 18 years of age.
Employees of PavCo Plumming are ineligible. Prizes void where prohibited by law, or anywhere else actually.

Problem 1

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

1 S
All Pass
North

3 H
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
4 H
Lead: C 10TableEast plays C 4



4 H South
S A 7 3 2
H A K Q 9 8
D Q J 10 2
C

A. Win C A-K-Q (pitch spades)
B. Win C A-K-Q (pitch diamonds)
C. Win C A-K (pitch spades)
D. Win C A-K (pitch diamonds)
E. Win C A (pitch spade); H A; H J
F. Win C A (pitch spade); lead D 3

Problem 2

IMPs
E-W Vul
S K 7 5 3
H 6 2
D A 5 2
C K 6 5 2
West

Pass
Pass
North

2 C
3 NT
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 NT
2 H
Lead: S 4TableEast plays S 6



3 NT South
S A 9
H A 8 5 4
D K 7 6 4
C A 8 4

After winning the S 9 (get that smirk off your face), what next?

A. Win S A; duck a heart
B. Win S A; duck a diamond
C. Win S A; duck a club
D. Duck a heart
E. Duck a diamond
F. Duck a club

Problem 3

Matchpoints
Both Vul
S K Q 4
H A Q 7 5 2
D A 7 5 4 3
C
West

Pass
All Pass
North
1 H
3 S
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
4 S
Lead: D JTableEast plays D 6



4 S South
S A J 10 9 8
H J 3
D Q 8
C 9 8 6 3

After winning the D Q (thank you very much), what next?

A. Run the H J
B. Lead H 3 and finesse queen
C. Win D A; ruff diamond; run the H J
D. Ruff club; lead the H Q
E. Ruff club; lead H 2 to jack
F. Ruff club; win D A; ruff diamond

Problem 4

Matchpoints
None Vul
S K J 6 5
H J 7 5 3
D 10 2
C Q 7 3
West

Pass
North

Pass
East
2 D
Pass
South
3 NT
Lead: H KTableEast wins H A
(perforce)



3 NT South
S A 3
H 10 6 2
D A K J 5 4
C A K 5

East shifts to the C J, won by your ace (West plays C 2). On the D K, West pitches the H 4. What next?

A. Win S A; lead S 3 and finesse jack
B. Lead S 3 and finesse jack
C. Lead the H 10
D. Lead the H 6
E. Lead the D 4
F. Win C Q; lead D 10 (Q-A); win D J

Problem 5

IMPs
N-S Vul
S 10 7
H K Q 5
D A 8 6 3
C A 8 5 4
West

2 S
All Pass
North
1 C
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
4 H
Lead: S ATableEast plays S Q



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

West continues with the S 6, East plays the jack and you win the king. What next?

A. Win H K-Q; C K; ruff spade
B. Win H K-Q; duck a club
C. Win H K; H A; ruff spade
D. Win H K; duck a club
E. Duck a diamond
F. Duck a club

Problem 6

IMPs
None Vul
S 9 8 6 4
H K 8 5 3
D 5 3
C A 10 3
West

1 H
All Pass
North

Dbl
East

3 H
South
1 D
4 S
Lead: H ATableEast plays H 4



4 S South
S A 7 5 2
H
D A K 8 7 6 4 2
C 7 4

Is the H A lead a blessing? Or a Trojan horse? How do you play?

A. Ruff; duck a spade
B. Ruff; win D A; duck a spade
C. Ruff; win D A; C A; H K; lead D 5
D. Ruff; win D A-K
E. Ruff; duck a diamond
F. Pitch a club

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek