Challenge 7X41 MainAnalyses

The Game Is Afoot

Scores by Richard Pavlicek

Tension filled the musty room as Professor Moriarty threw six decks of playing cards onto the large wooden table. “Sit!” he demanded. “I’m in a sporting mood. We’ll play six hands of bridge, and if you go plus on every one, I’ll set you both free.”

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson had been investigating the disappearance of the Crown Emerald from Windsor Castle, and were seized by Moriarty’s henchmen. They were now being held captive in the basement of the archvillain’s home. “And if we don’t?” Holmes inquired.

“That’s easy, Mr. Holmes. You and your bumbling doctor friend will be my guests for lunch. I’ve installed a brand new piranha tank, and the August heat is making the little buggers voracious. Anyone for bridge?”

“Hardly seems fair,” Watson grumbled. “I’ve only played bridge a few times. Can’t we make it gin rummy?”

“Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot,” instructed Holmes, then he whispered in his friend’s ear, “Just bid only minor suits, or double with a good hand. Try to make yourself dummy — that shouldn’t be too hard.”

“Then, let’s begin.” Moriarty grinned. “The cards are already shuffled, and I’ll deal to save time. Colonel Moran? I know you’re not a bridge player, but be my partner and just pass. Holmes? You sit on my right.” As fate (or the Professor’s evil design) would have it, Holmes became declarer on each deal.

In August 2003 these six problems were presented as a contest, which had 838 entrants from 114 locations. The contest is now closed, but you can still challenge yourself and find your score immediately. As South on each problem, simply choose your play from options A-F. Each option is rated on a 1-to-10 scale per my judgment.

Bidding and carding by West (Moriarty) is standard, and assume expert skill. For a reference see Standard American Bridge. Do not draw any inferences from East (Moran) who always passes and knows little about card play except to follow suit.

So match your play with Sherlock Holmes. The only prize this month will be staying out of the piranha tank. Remember: Scoring is plus-or-fishfood, so don’t worry about overtricks!

Problem 1

 Plus-or-FishfoodN-S Vul 10 7 5 3 K Q 9 8 K Q J 10 4 MoriartyWEST1 Pass WatsonNorth1 Pass MoranEastPassPass HolmesSouth1 NT Lead: K East plays 2 1 NT South J 4 2 10 3 A 6 4 3 A J 10 8

A. Win A; lead 10 to king
B. Win A; run the 10
C. Win A; K (both follow); Q-J
D. Win A; K (both follow); all diamonds
E. Win A; lead the J
F. Duck the first trick

Problem 2

 Plus-or-FishfoodN-S Vul A 4 2 A Q 6 A 5 4 2 K 4 2 MoriartyWEST1 Pass WatsonNorthDblPass MoranEastPassPass HolmesSouth2 Lead: Q 2 South K 7 6 8 9 7 6 3 Q 10 9 7 5

A. Win A; A
B. Win A; lead 2 to queen
C. Win A; lead 2 and finesse 10
D. Win K; A
E. Win K; finesse Q
F. Win K; lead 5 to king

Problem 3

 Plus-or-FishfoodN-S Vul A Q 6 K Q 10 2 Q J 3 A J 4 MoriartyWEST1 3 WatsonNorthDbl3 MoranEastPassAll Pass HolmesSouth2 Lead: K East plays 3 3 South 8 7 4 9 6 4 3 10 5 Q 10 8 2

After winning the A, what next?

Problem 4

 Plus-or-FishfoodN-S Vul J 8 3 K A 6 5 2 K Q 10 8 7 MoriartyWEST2 1Pass WatsonNorth3 Pass MoranEastPassPass HolmesSouth3 NT Lead: 10 3 NT South A 2 A Q J 5 K Q 10 4 5 3 2 1. weak; undisciplined

East plays the Q if you play dummy’s jack; else the 4. Your play?

A. Play J; win first round
B. Play J; win second round
C. Play 3; win first round; win K
D. Play 3; win first round; lead 2
E. Play 3; win second round; win K
F. Play 3; win second round; lead 2

Problem 5

 Plus-or-FishfoodN-S Vul A K Q J 10 9 10 5 3 2 5 K Q MoriartyWEST1 3 WatsonNorth2 13 MoranEastPassAll Pass HolmesSouth2 Lead: K East plays 6 3 South 8 6 J 4 Q J 4 A 8 6 5 4 2 1. Watson make-me-dummy transfer

West next leads the J (won by the king) as East plays the 3. What now?

C. Draw trumps; win Q; lead 3
D. Draw trumps; win Q; lead 5

Problem 6

 Plus-or-FishfoodN-S Vul 7 5 2 J 10 4 K Q K 10 5 4 3 MoriartyWEST1 2 3 WatsonNorthPassPass4 MoranEastPassPassAll Pass HolmesSouth2 3 Lead: K East plays 2 4 South J 4 3 A A J 10 8 7 6 A 9 2

You cash K-Q on which West (void) pitches two hearts. What next?