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The Modern Hexathlon

The torch goes on! Keep your eyes on Athens this month and you may witness the Modern Hexathlon. This inaugural event for both men and women combines traditional disciplines of track and field (javelin throw, long jump and marathon) with aquatics (backstroke, freestyle and high dive). In all aspects, a superb test of athletics and a treat for spectators. I know I’ll be glued to my TV set.

The Modern Hexathlon also relates well to bridge, as these six problems illustrate. Unfortunately there won’t be any bridge competition in Athens, because bridge is a winter sport — or so the World Bridge Federation tried to make us believe several years ago. For an insight see my February 2002 challenge Leading for the Gold.

Therefore, this challenge will be your only chance to ascend the Olympic podium. As South, simply choose your play from the choices listed. Each option will be rated on a 1-to-10 scale per my judgment.

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

In August 2004 these problems were presented as a contest with 871 entrants from 121 locations. The contest is closed, but you can still quiz yourself and find your score immediately. If you’re lucky, you might even win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes include a 24K gold Olympic torch and five interlocking rings. Winners must be at least 18 years of age and will be
required to submit urine samples to PavCo Labs for drug testing. Greek citizens and foreigners are ineligible.

Well, the opening ceremonies are over. Grab your javelin and move to the starting line. Get a running start, and go for the distance!

Javelin Throw

IMPs
N-S Vul
S 9 8
H 10 9 8 5 2
D A Q 9
C 7 5 3
West

Pass
Pass
North

3 D1
3 NT
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
2 NT
3 H
Lead: C QTableEast plays C 6



3 NT South
S A J 10 2
H A J
D K J 10
C A K 4 2

1. Javelin transfer

A. Win first club; H A; lead H J
B. Win first club; lead H J
C. Win first club; D Q; run S 9
D. Win second club; H A; lead H J
E. Win second club; lead H J
F. Win second club; D Q; run S 9

Backstroke

IMPs
Both Vul
S Q J
H A Q 10 5
D A 6 4 2
C J 7 3
West

2 C
Pass
All Pass
North

3 C
4 S
East
1 C
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
3 S
3 S1
Lead: D QTableEast plays D 5



3 S South
S A 10 9 7 5 4
H 4 3
D K 8
C 5 4 2

1. backstroke (why go down in four?)

After such a clever bid, how do you play?

A. Win D A; run S Q
B. Win D K; finesse H Q
C. Win D K; finesse H 10
D. Win D K; D A; run S Q
E. Win D K; D A; ruff a diamond
F. Win D K; lead a club

Long Jump

IMPs
N-S Vul
S K 6 4 2
H
D K 7 3
C A 6 5 4 3 2
West

Pass
North
1 C
Pass
East
Pass
Pass
South
6 H1
Lead: C QTable



6 H South
S A 9 7 5
H A K Q J 10 9 8
D Q 4
C

1. short of the record but a good first attempt

A. Win C A (pitch spade); lead D 3
B. Win C A (pitch spade); ruff a club
C. Win C A (pitch diamond); lead D 3
D. Win C A (pitch diamond); ruff a club
E. Ruff first trick; draw trumps; lead D Q
F. Ruff first trick; draw trumps; lead D 4

Note: Trumps split 3-3.

Freestyle

IMPs
None Vul
S K 10 7 5
H 10 9 7 6
D J 4 2
C A 2
West

3 H
Dbl
North

Pass
All Pass
East
1 H
4 H
South
2 C1
4 S
Lead: D KTableEast plays D 9



4 S× South
S J 9 8 6 3
H
D 8 7
C K 8 7 6 5 4

1. freestyle (Michaels is for wimps)

West next leads the H 3 to East’s ace. Your play?

A. Ruff; run the S 9
B. Ruff; lead spade to king
C. Ruff; win C A-K; ruff club; lead S K
D. Ruff; win C A-K; ruff club; lead S 10
E. Ruff; win C A-K; ruff club; ruff heart
F. Pitch your last diamond

Note: If you lead clubs, West has C Q-3.

High Dive

IMPs
None Vul
S 7 3
H A Q 7 4
D A 7 4
C 6 5 4 2
West
1 H
2 S
4 S
Dbl
North
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
East
1 S
3 S
Pass
South
Pass
Pass
5 C1
Lead: S KTableEast wins S A



5 C× South
S J
H 10 3 2
D J 10 2
C A K 10 9 8 7

1. reverse somersault with a half twist

At trick two East leads the H 6 (West plays H 8) to the queen. Your play?

A. Ruff S 7; win two trumps; duck a heart
B. Ruff S 7; win two trumps; lead D J
C. Ruff S 7; win four trumps
D. Win two trumps; duck a heart
E. Win two trumps; lead D J
F. Win four trumps

Note: West has a blank C Q.

Marathon

IMPs
Both Vul
S K Q 9 3
H 10 4 3
D A K 6 2
C 6 2
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 D
2 S
3 D
3 S
4 S
5 D
5 S
6 C
East
1 H
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
3 C
3 H
4 D
5 C
5 H
5 NT
6 S
Lead: H JTableEast plays H 7



6 S South
S A 10 8 7 6
H A 8 5 2
D 3
C A K 9

You ran out of bids! Now play something:

A. Win H A; S A
B. Win H A; S K; S A
C. Win H A; S K; D A; ruff a diamond
D. Win H A; S K; C A-K
E. Win H A; D A-K; ruff a diamond
F. Duck the first trick

To see how you did click

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© 2004 Richard Pavlicek