An article by Jim Munday, my regular bridge partner and fellow puzzle maven, inspired this puzzle. I only mention this because Mr. Munday is dedicated to Sue, and may sue me as well not that I worry about losing the case, but my attorneys have their hands full. Current litigation even disputes my rights to Munday, Munday
so good to me! but I swear its original. Bah-da
bah-da-da-da. Cant trust that day!
Jim is also the owner of two but to trust anyone harboring a warrants a brain scan.
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
but on a Munday? Better make that a cat scan.
Meanwhile, back to bridge. Suppose North-South reach 4 on the following deal. Children may be reading this, so Ill spare you the bidding. Suffice it to say it was hardly mundane but certainly mundayne.
West begins by cashing two top hearts as East high-lows to show a doubleton. On the third heart, East has a choice of deuce discards in three suits, but only the 2 allows the contract to be set. Yes, any club but the king would do, but were talking deuces here. If you need a refresher, think Munday from Mississippi. Now that you have a better understanding of deuces, East parts with the correct one, and West exits safely with a trump. Declarer has no successful path to a 10th trick.
Discarding the 2 would allow declarer an easy make by establishing dummys fourth diamond.
Discarding the 2, better known as ruffing, may seem innocuous; but East just spent his one safe exit. His only hope would be to lead the 10 or 9; queen, king, ace; but declarer now can establish a diamond trick by running the 8 on the third round.
What about other North-South layouts? Is a club discard by East always adequate? Obviously, it could never be necessary for East to pitch a diamond, as a club would have to be equivalent. But what about the 2?
Now its your turn to be a Munday morning quarterback:
Construct a South hand where East must ruff the third heart to defeat 4 .
Multiple solutions exist. Tiebreaking goal is for the South hand to be as weak as possible. Weakness is judged by the sum of all card ranks: Ace = 14, king = 13, queen = 12, jack = 11, etc.
This puzzle contest, designated November 2018 for reference, was open for over a year. Participants were limited to one attempt, unlike my usual contests that allowed entries to be revised with only the latest one counting. Essentially it fizzled perhaps too difficult for most players or too offbeat for general interest with fewer entries than usual. There were six correct solutions, of which five were optimal.
Congratulations to Nicholas Greer, who was first to submit the perfect solution. Nicholas is a regular participant, almost always ranked in the top echelon, winning Doubled in Spades back in 2016, and recently The Ides of March Squeeze, where he had the unique distinction of being the only successful solver.
Ranking is by the lowest South rank sum, with ties broken by date-time of entry.
Five of the six solvers found the optimal solution (South rank sum 110) where East must ruff his partners good heart to beat 4 . First lets see how declarer can succeed against routine defense:
After the diamond finesse at Trick 9, the Q is led (covered and ruffed) to make West the sole protector of clubs. Then the last spade squeezes West in the minor suits.
Nicholas Greer: If West is left on lead at trick four and exits safely with a spade, South can unblock the A and transfer club control to West, then run trumps for a minor-suit squeeze.
If East ruffs the Q at Trick 3 and returns the 10 (or nine), declarer lacks the entries for the transfer squeeze described above. Instead this hopeless ending is reached:
Nicholas Greer: The defense needs to attack the diamond entries to North before the A is unblocked, and the only way to do this without surrending a trick is for East to ruff Trick 3 and lead a top diamond.
Samuel Pahk: East must ruff Trick 3 and returns a high diamond, knocking out a key entry to dummy and preventing any squeeze.
Gordon Ho: A diamond must be led from the correct side to attack dummys entry.
Charles Blair: This puzzle piqued my curiosity, but Ill be surprised if Ive found the optimal solution.
Gee, most people would be surprised if you found any solution.
Charles Blair: My energy for bridge seems to be burning out.
Youre not alone, if participation in my puzzle contests is any indication. Maybe my next puzzle should be:Will bridge hit the tar pits before we do?
Mabel Pavlicek Jr: I just wanted to meow thanks to the Munday cats, Charlie and Jackson, for inspiring my adoption. Unfortunately my keeper forces me to play his stupid bidding system, which is so confusing. One day I bid one spade, then he takes me to the vet to be spayed. Go figure! You can see my picture here.
Acknowledgments to Papa John Phillips (1935-2001)and a gold Zero Tolerance medal to Sue Munday© 2021 Richard Pavlicek