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The Worst Leading Man

Never to be outdone by the many award shows these days, I’ve decided to start my own. Forget the silly Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes or whatever, and say hello to the PavCo Awards honoring ineptitude at the bridge table. I’ve won a few myself over the years, but I won’t be greedy; I wish to share this glory with the many other deserving people around the world.

This year’s PavCo in the “worst leading man” category goes to your partner, West, on these six problems. As East, your goal is to recover from the bad start by choosing your next lead from the choices listed. Each option is rated on a 1-to-10 scale, based on my judgment.

Bidding is atandard, and you and partner use standard leads and signals. For a reference see Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

In April of 2004 these problems were presented as a contest with 908 entrants from 115 locations. The contest is closed, but you can still quiz yourself and find your score immediately. If you’re lucky, you might win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes include two gleaming statuettes (13 inches high) handcrafted in 24K gold, and 50 tickets to The Lord of the Rings: PavCo Returns.
Employees of PavCo Oscar Heists are ineligible. Void where prohibited by law, or where no such prohibitions exist.

Well, are you ready to face the man with the not-so-golden arm? Then plop yourself down in the East chair. It might boost your morale if you close your eyes on the opening lead; but after that debacle, partner will be on your side. See if you can find the best defense.

Problem 1

Matchpoints
Both Vul
S K J 9 2
H 10 8 7 4
D A 2
C K 8 6
 
West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
 
North

1 H
3 S1
You
East

Pass
Pass
 
South
1 C
1 S
4 S
4 S SouthTable S Q 4
H Q J 9
D J 10 8 3
C Q 9 7 2

Trick
1 W
2 S
Lead
D 4
S 5
2nd
2
3
3rd
10
J
4th
Q
Q

1. forcing

Your next lead: SHHDCC 2

Problem 2

Matchpoints
None Vul
S Q 5 4
H A 8 4 3 2
D K 10 8 5 2
C
 
West
3 H
Pass
Pass
 
North
Pass
4 D
Pass
You
East
Pass
Dbl
Dbl
 
South
4 C
5 C
All Pass
5 C× SouthTable S J 9 7 6
H
D A Q J 9 4
C K 6 3 2

Trick
1 W
2 S
3 S
Lead
S K
C A
C Q
2nd
4
4
5
3rd
7
H 2
H 3
4th
A
2
K

Your next lead: SSSDDC 3

Problem 3

Matchpoints
None Vul
S Q 8 4
H 4 3
D A 6 5 2
C K Q J 7
 
West

Pass
 
North

4 H
You
East
1 NT
All Pass
 
South
3 H
4 H SouthTable S A J 3
H A K 5
D J 9 8
C A 9 5 2

Trick
1 W
2 S
Lead
C 4
H Q
2nd
J
2
3rd
A
3
4th
H 6
A

Your next lead: SHHDDC 2

Problem 4

Matchpoints
E-W Vul
S 10 4
H 8 4
D A Q 10 6 4
C K 5 4 2
 
West
4 H
Pass
 
North
Pass
Pass
You
East
Pass
Pass
 
South
4 S
4 S SouthTable S A 3 2
H 7 6 5
D K J 9 8 2
C Q 10

Trick
1 W
2 S
Lead
H 3
S Q
2nd
4
5
3rd
5
4
4th
9
A

Your next lead: SHDDCC 10

Problem 5

Matchpoints
None Vul
S K 3
H A J 8 2
D K 10 4 2
C J 9 2
 
West

Pass
Pass
 
North

2 C
3 NT
You
East

Pass
All Pass
 
South
1 NT
2 S
3 NT SouthTable S Q 10 9 8
H Q 10 9 7
D 6 5
C Q 10 4

Trick
1 W
2 S
Lead
D Q
H 4
2nd
2
5
3rd
5
J
4th
A
Q

Your next lead: S 10  H 10  HDCC 4

Problem 6

Matchpoints
Both Vul
S K Q
H K 10 8 4
D K 8 3 2
C A Q 4
 
West

Pass
 
North
1 NT
Pass
You
East
Pass
Pass
 
South
4 S1
4 S SouthTable S A 7 2
H 7 6 5 3
D J 10 4
C J 10 8

Trick
1 W
2 S
Lead
H A
S 5
2nd
4
9
3rd
3
Q
4th
S 3
?

1. no transfers to put West on lead!

Surely you’re not beating this. What is your plan to minimize overtricks?

A. Win S A; lead S 2
B. Win S A; lead H 5
C. Win S A; lead D J
D. Win S A; lead C J
E. Duck; win next spade
F. Duck twice

To see how you did click

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© 2004 Richard Pavlicek