Main   Challenge 7X65 by Richard Pavlicek  

Distribution Most Foul

Bad breaks abound on these problems, but have no fear: Jane Marple is on the case! Your goal as her assistant is to cope with the foul distribution you will discover. Unfortunately, despite Miss Marple’s insistence, Scotland Yard won’t even acknowledge that a crime has been committed. So be careful! If you dig too deep, you might unearth a corpse or two.

As declarer on each of the six problems, all you have to do is choose your play from options A-F. Each option will be 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 both opponents are strong players, though not necessarily experts.

I hope you’ve had your cup of tea, as the sinister events are about to unfold. Inspector Craddock has reluctantly briefed you on the Yard’s investigation, which you believe is off target. You think the evildoings stem from a local theatrical troupe and decide to feign a bit of acting talent and work undercover. Good luck, brave soul!

Due to the importance of this case, in February 2004 I gave the 838 entrants from 104 locations a full extra day to solve it! I’m generous like that. (The fact that 2004 happened to be a leap year was just a coincidence.) And what’s more, if you prove yourself to be one of the top detectives, you might even win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes include five signed sets (with certificate of authenticity) of the complete works of Agatha Christie. Winners must be at most 18 years of age and a Knight (or Dame) Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. Dames of Sir PavCo Ltd. are ineligible. TopMain

Problem 1

IMPs E-W Vul

West
3 S
All Pass
North
Pass
East
Pass
South
3 NT

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

You win the H K and lead the C Q, on which West pitches the S 7 and East ducks. What next?

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

IMPs None Vul

West
1 C
All Pass
North
Dbl
East
1 S
South
4 H

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

You play low from dummy and capture East’s S Q with your king. What next?

  1. Lead the S 5
  2. Lead the H J
  3. Lead H 3 to the queen
  4. Lead D 10 and duck it
  5. Lead C Q to the ace
  6. Lead C Q and duck it
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Problem 3

IMPs N-S Vul

West

Pass
All Pass
North

Dbl
East
3 H
Pass
South
Pass
3 NT

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

How do you play?

  1. Win first diamond
  2. Win second diamond; lead H 2
  3. Win second diamond; lead C 10
  4. Win third diamond; lead H 2
  5. Win third diamond; lead C 10
  6. Win fourth diamond
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Problem 4

IMPs N-S Vul

West

2 D¹
Pass
North

2 S²
3 NT
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 D
2 NT
1. Michaels
2. diamond fit + spade stopper

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

You play dummy’s H 10, and East plays the queen. How do you play?

  1. Win first heart; lead S 4
  2. Win first heart; lead D 5
  3. Win second heart; lead D 5
  4. Win second heart; lead C 6
  5. Win third heart; lead D 5
  6. Win third heart; lead C 6
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Problem 5

IMPs E-W Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

2 D
3 H*
East

Pass
Dbl
South
2 C
2 NT
4 S
*Jacoby transfer

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

You duck, and West leads the H 10 (East plays H 7) to your ace. On the S A, East on your right pitches the H 8. What next?

  1. Win S Q; lead S 10
  2. Win S Q; lead H 5
  3. Win S Q; D A-K; lead H 5
  4. Lead the S 10
  5. Lead the H 5
  6. Win D A-K; lead H 5
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Problem 6

IMPs Both Vul

West

Pass
Dbl
North
1 C
5 NT*
All Pass
East
5 H
Pass
South
5 S
6 S
*pick a slam

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

You win the C K, as East pitches the H Q! You next lead the S 3, and East predictably chucks another heart. What now?

  1. Win S A-K-Q-J; lead S 8
  2. Win S A-K-Q-J; lead H 2
  3. Win S A; lead H 2
  4. Win S A; finesse D Q
  5. Win S A; C A; ruff a club
  6. Duck first spade to West

To see how you did click

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Acknowledgments to Agatha Christie (1890-1976) and her Miss Marple character.
Photos are Margaret Rutherford in Murder Most Foul (1964).
© 2004 Richard Pavlicek