Main   Challenge 7X09 by Richard Pavlicek  

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 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.

On each of the six problems, you are South, and all you have to do is 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.

If you happen to be a real sweet guy or gal, you might even win a valuable prize.* In the words of the Great One, “How sweet it is… and a-way we go!”

*Prizes include a lifetime supply of sugarplum pies and gingerbread. Winners must be at least 18 years of age. Employees of PavCo Plumming are ineligible. Prizes are void where prohibited by law, and anywhere else for that matter. TopMain

Problem 1

IMPs N-S Vul

West

1 S
All Pass
North

3 H
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
4 H

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

It seems partner was wise not to bid clubs. Your play?

  1. Win C A-K-Q (pitch spades)
  2. Win C A-K-Q (pitch diamonds)
  3. Win C A-K (pitch spades)
  4. Win C A-K (pitch diamonds)
  5. Win C A (pitch spade); H A; H J
  6. Win C A (pitch spade); lead D 3
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Problem 2

IMPs E-W Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North

2 C
3 NT
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 NT
2 H

3 NT South
S K 7 5 3
H 6 2
D A 5 2
C K 6 5 2
Lead: S 4TableEast plays S 6
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), how do you play?

  1. Win S A; duck a heart
  2. Win S A; duck a diamond
  3. Win S A; duck a club
  4. Duck a heart
  5. Duck a diamond
  6. Duck a club
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Problem 3

Matchpoints Both Vul

West

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

4 S South
S K Q 4
H A Q 7 5 2
D A 7 5 4 3
C
Lead: D JTableEast plays D 6
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), how do you play?

  1. Run the H J
  2. Lead H 3 and finesse queen
  3. Win D A; ruff diamond; run the H J
  4. Ruff club; lead the H Q
  5. Ruff club; lead H 2 to jack
  6. Ruff club; win D A; ruff diamond
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Problem 4

Matchpoints None Vul

West

Pass
North

Pass
East
2 D
Pass
South
3 NT

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

At trick two East leads the C J to your ace (West plays the two). On the D K, West pitches the H 4. What next?

  1. Win S A; lead S 3 and finesse jack
  2. Lead S 3 and finesse jack
  3. Lead the H 10
  4. Lead the H 6
  5. Lead the D 4
  6. Win C Q; lead D 10 (Q-A); win D J
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Problem 5

IMPs N-S Vul

West

2 S
All Pass
North
1 C
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
4 H

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

At trick two West continues with the S 6, East plays the jack and you win the king. How do you play?

  1. Win H K-Q; C K; ruff spade
  2. Win H K-Q; duck a club
  3. Win H K; H A; ruff spade
  4. Win H K; duck a club
  5. Duck a diamond
  6. Duck a club
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Problem 6

IMPs None Vul

West

1 H
All Pass
North

Dbl
East

3 H
South
1 D
4 S

4 S South
S 9 8 6 4
H K 8 5 3
D 5 3
C A 10 3
Lead: H ATableEast plays H 4
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? In order to justify partner’s negative double, how do you play?

  1. Ruff; duck a spade
  2. Ruff; win D A; duck a spade
  3. Ruff; win D A; C A; H K; lead D 5
  4. Ruff; win D A-K
  5. Ruff; duck a diamond
  6. Pitch a club

To see how you did click

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© 2003 Richard Pavlicek