Challenge 7X81 by Richard Pavlicek
Sculpted by crusaders in 16th century Malta, the solid-gold jewel-encrusted statuette was stolen by pirates and lost for hundreds of years. In the mid-1800s it resurfaced in Paris, and it wasnt seen again until 1923 in Athens, where an antiques dealer covered it in black enamel to disguise its precious value.
Ten years later it was traced to the Istanbul home of a Russian general, then it was stolen and shipped to San Francisco but never found. Detective Sam Spade came close alas, the Bird he found was a fake, and his partner was killed as a consequence.
Finally, in June of 2004 we can put an end to this mystery. Last week I acquired the Falcon from a Gypsy (who had no idea of its worth) and it now sits proudly on my mantle. Priceless? Not really, as Ive appraised it at $28 million; and being a generous guy, I am offering it on eBay for only $27 million (plus shipping and handling).
To celebrate my new-found wealth, I invite you to try this declarer-play challenge. In honor of Sam Spade, each contract is of course in spades, progressing from 1 to 6 . As South, choose your play from the choices listed. Each option is rated on a 1-to-10 scale per my judgment.
Bidding is standard, and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference see of Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.
In June of 2004 these problems were presented as a contest with 891 entrants from 117 locations. The contest is closed, but you can still quiz yourself and find your score immediately. If youre lucky, you might even win a valuable prize.*
*Prizes include four Falcon replicas (porcelain with faux jewels) and a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live with David Spade.Winners must be at least 18 years of age and spayed or neutered. Employees of Spade and PavCo are ineligible.
Are you ready for the Black Bird? Or shall we just call a spade a spade? To get a good score, youll need the stuff that dreams are made of!
After winning the A, what next?
A. Lead the 3B. Lead the KC. Lead the 5D. Win A; lead 5E. Win A; lead 3F. Finesse the J
1. Jacoby transfer
A. Lead the 2B. Win the KC. Lead the QD. Lead the 3E. Win the AF. Lead the 4
After ruffing the first trick, what next?
A. Win K; lead 2B. Win K; lead 5C. Win A; lead 4D. Win A; lead 2E. Win A; lead 5F. Duck a club
Assuming East plays the A only on Norths queen, how do you play?
A. Play Q; win second diamond; lead 7B. Play Q; win second diamond; lead AC. Play Q; win second diamond; lead 3D. Play 5; win first diamond; lead 2E. Play 5; win first diamond; lead AF. Play 5; win first diamond; lead 3
A. Win A; A; lead JB. Win A; A; lead 5C. Win A; lead 2D. Win A; lead JE. Win A; lead 5F. Duck the first trick
Assuming the Q does not appear and no one shows out of spades, how do you play?
A. Win A; A; KB. Win A; A; finesse 10C. Win A; finesse 10D. Duck; win second heart; A; KE. Duck; win second heart; A; finesse 10F. Duck; win second heart; finesse 10
To see how you did click
Credits to Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) and The Maltese FalconPhoto is Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in the 1941 movie classic© 2004 Richard Pavlicek