Main   Challenge 7X89 by Richard Pavlicek  

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 (200-meter backstroke, 400-meter freestyle and high diving). In all respects, a superb test of athletics as well as 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. You won’t find any bridge competition in Athens* so this will be your only opportunity 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, based on my judgment.

*Bridge, of course, is a winter sport — or so the World Bridge Federation tried to sell us several years ago. For an insight, see my February 2002 challenge Leading for the Gold.

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 may be required to submit a urine sample for drug testing at PavCo Labs. Greek citizens and foreigners are ineligible.

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

Well, the opening ceremonies are over, so grab your javelin and move up to the starting line. Get a running start, and aim for the distance! TopMain

Problem 1

Javelin Throw

IMPs, N-S Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North

3 D*
3 NT
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
2 NT
3 H
*Javelin transfer

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

As South, how do you play?

  1. Win first club; H A; lead H J
  2. Win first club; lead H J
  3. Win first club; D Q; run S 9
  4. Win second club; H A; lead H J
  5. Win second club; lead H J
  6. Win second club; D Q; run S 9
TopMain

Problem 2

200m Backstroke

IMPs, Both Vul

West

2 C
Pass
All Pass
North

3 C
4 S
East
1 C
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
3 S
3 S*
*smooth stroke; nobody noticed

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

After such a clever bid, how do you play?

  1. Win D A; run S Q
  2. Win D K; finesse H Q
  3. Win D K; finesse H 10
  4. Win D K; D A; run S Q
  5. Win D K; D A; ruff a diamond
  6. Win D K; lead a club
TopMain

Problem 3

Long Jump

IMPs, N-S Vul

West

All Pass
North
1 C
East
Pass
South
6 H*
*well short of the record but a good first attempt

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

How do you play? (Trumps split 3-3)

  1. Win C A (pitch spade); lead D 3
  2. Win C A (pitch spade); ruff a club
  3. Win C A (pitch diamond); lead D 3
  4. Win C A (pitch diamond); ruff a club
  5. Ruff first trick; draw trumps; lead D Q
  6. Ruff first trick; draw trumps; lead D 4
TopMain

Problem 4

400m Freestyle

IMPs, None Vul

West

3 H
Dbl
North

Pass
All Pass
East
1 H
4 H
South
2 C*
4 S
*Michaels is for wimps

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

West next leads the H 3 to East’s ace. Your play? (If you lead clubs, West has C Q-3.)

  1. Ruff; run the S 9
  2. Ruff; lead spade to king
  3. Ruff; win C A-K; ruff club; lead S K
  4. Ruff; win C A-K; ruff club; lead S 10
  5. Ruff; win C A-K; ruff club; ruff heart
  6. Pitch your last diamond
TopMain

Problem 5

High Diving

IMPs, None Vul

West
1 H
2 S
4 S
Dbl
North
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
East
1 S
3 S
Pass
South
Pass
Pass
5 C*
*reverse somersault with a half twist

5 C× South
(win 10)
S 7 3
H A Q 7 4
D A 7 4
C 6 5 4 2
Lead: S KTableEast plays S A
S J
H 10 3 2
D J 10 2
C A K 10 9 8 7

At trick two East leads the H 6 (West plays H 8) to the queen. Your play? (West has a blank C Q.)

  1. Ruff S 7; win two trumps; duck a heart
  2. Ruff S 7; win two trumps; lead D J
  3. Ruff S 7; win four trumps
  4. Win two trumps; duck a heart
  5. Win two trumps; lead D J
  6. Win four trumps
TopMain

Problem 6

Marathon

IMPs, Both Vul

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
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 (AP)

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

You ran out of bids, so how do you play?

  1. Win H A; S A
  2. Win H A; S K; S A
  3. Win H A; S K; D A; ruff a diamond
  4. Win H A; S K; C A-K
  5. Win H A; D A-K; ruff a diamond
  6. Duck the first trick

To see how you did click

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© 2004 Richard Pavlicek