Puzzle 8N97 by Richard Pavlicek
On my first trip to the International Space Station, I was invited on a mission to Venus. Reluctantly I accepted, not realizing the round trip would take over six months. Oh well; one of the crew, Morty, was also a bridge player, so we occupied our spare time with bidding practice. Little did I realize how fortuitous this would be, and I dont mean as a puzzle source but financially.
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Upon entering the Venusian gravitational field we encountered another spacecraft, and after establishing radio contact it requested permission to dock. Oh dear! At first we were all suspicious, fearing we might perish, but when Mission Control gave us the option, we voted unamimously to take the chance for the benefit of science. A wise decision.
Welcome aboard! Eek and Meek, from Ishtar Terra, were quite familiar with Earth and even some of our games, like chess and bridge. Delighted by the latter, Morty and I asked if theyd like to play a round for fun. Negk! came the reply, as they would only play for a venk a point, and by their rules. We had no idea what a venk was but agreed. Their scoring was like our Chicago style, but a round was just three deals, honors did not exist, and the vulnerability was decided by venk toss. Whatever; 160 million miles from home we couldnt be picky.
Luck went our way, as Morty and I made a contract on each deal. Poor Eek and Meek were unhappy, but after the round they honored their agreement, paying us almost a billion venks apiece! Say what? It turns out that under Venusian rules, scores are multiplied instead of added. Wow! Scary to think we could have lost beyond belief, though they might have had trouble collecting.
As a newly ordained venkabillionnaire, well almost, I expect to retire soon but still dont know what its worth in dollars. Please, somebody, help me before I lose my mind! Or maybe thats happened already.
How close can you come to winning a billion without going over?
The venk toss has been made, so the vulnerabilities are set. Your side must declare each deal. Enter the contract level and strain (e.g., 3N), risk (UXR) and the number of tricks won (7-13), all of which must be unique. Click Verify to check your Venusian score, which must be over 999 million and under a billion to succeed (scoring 1 billion exactly is impossible). In case youre wondering, the product of two minus scores does not become positive but just multiplies the amounts lost.
If desired, you may submit your solution using the form below. This may be done only once, and doing so will add your name to the list of successful solvers, ranked by your Venusian score. You will also receive an automatic reply with a copy of your solution and what Richard believes is the optimal solution.
© 2018 Richard Pavlicek