On Tuesday April 3 one of my transport vessels was detected by Coast Guard radar. When they radioed a command to board for inspection, the two-man crew had little choice but to launch their dinghy and deep-six the entire ship. Estimated loss was $200 million in gold and ivory, but thats only a drop in the bucket. At PavCo we dont mind feeding the fishes occasionally to avoid jail time.
As expected the Feds couldnt file charges. When the Coast Guard seized the dinghy, my crew captain answered the interrogation with What ship? as he hummed a good ship, Lollipop. So its back to business as usual, and some good news, as the incident inspired a puzzle.
Many contracts are deep-sixed by foul distribution, or would be with routine play. Imagine you are South on this layout:
You nearly fell out of your chair on seeing Wests 3 bid, but at favorable vulnerability thats common these days, especially short in spades. A takeout double by partner would have been sweet, but no-o-o-o, the fool bids his suit, leaving you little choice but to try the notrump game. West wisely eschews his emaciated suit to lead the J, and there you are.
The routine play is to establish clubs, but this would almost surely fail on the auction. Barring miracles you would win four clubs, two hearts, a spade and a diamond. The realistic chance to succeed is to delay leading clubs until West has nothing else left, then a ping-pong battle might produce a fifth club trick.
Look closely at the club spots. If you lead clubs first, West will grab his king and return the eight, eventually scoring the seven to deep-six the contract. Instead you need West to start clubs. His best thrust would be the 8, which you capture and lead middle clubs until West takes his king, then the forced club return allows your own deep six to land the contract.
Double-dummy defense early can foil you, but thats no reason not to try: Duck the first heart; win the next; lead a diamond to the king, ace; win the heart return, Q and A. Youre almost home! Besides clubs, West has only one other card left, which you hope is the J. Exit with a diamond, and enjoy the volley. West will not.
In the club suit above, South can win five tricks if West leads first, but only four tricks if South leads first, which I will abbreviate as win 5/4 to aid the description of this three-part puzzle:
With a 6-6 suit division, what are the minimal holdings to win (A) 4/3, (B) 3/2 and (C) 2/1 tricks?
Enter Souths club holding (any six cards except the 2) to win the first number of tricks if West leads, or the second number if South leads. West will get the remaining six clubs. Assume clubs will not be played until six cards remain. To succeed, Souths holding in each part must be within one pip of minimal. Successful solvers will be ranked by the sum of all South cards (lowest is better) and ties will be broken by the most South sixes. Dont worry! Three sixes wont have you deep-sixed by the devil.
This puzzle contest, designated August 2018 for reference, was open for over a year. Participants were limited to one attempt, unlike my usual contests allowing entries to be revised with only the last one counting. Participation was low, which seems to be the trend these days; but thats okay. Ill take quality over quantity any time. There were seven correct solutions, of which four were optimal.
Congratulations to Tim Broeken, my all-time winningest solver. Tims rap sheet goes back over a decade and reads like a broeken record: Yarborough Fair, The Bricks of Amenhotep, The Jackson Four, Valentine's Hat Trick, Ruff-day the 13th, Fail Safe, Top of Nothing, Diamonds in Distress, Watson's Play of the Hand and I probably missed one.
Ranking is by the least sum of the three South holdings, most sixes used, and date-time of entry, in that order of priority.
The weakest South holding to win four tricks (or three) has a rank sum of 51:
If West leads the nine, South wins the 10 and fires back low; West wins and returns a middle card to the queen, then South exits low to endplay West. One trick less if South leads first.
The weakest South holding to win three tricks (or two) has a rank sum of 44:
If West leads the king, South ducks, and again on the queen. South wins the next lead cheaply and exits with the seven to endplay West. One trick less if South leads first.
The weakest South holding to win two tricks (or one) has a rank sum of 38:
If West leads, South simply waits for a card he can beat, then exits low to eventually win a second trick. If South has to lead, West wins anything cheaply then exits low to endplay South.
District Attorney: PavCo Enterprises and its CEO are hereby indicted by the Federal Grand Jury on three counts of interstate trafficking. Appearance is mandatory at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee on March 13 at 10:00 am for a pre-trial hearing. All passports have been revoked to minimize flight risk.
Im already in Brazil. Take a hike, you retards!
Satan: Listen up, PavCo! You may have escaped the Feds, but winning this contest required three sixes, and theres no escape from that. Consider 666 engraved on your forehead!
© 2021 PavCo Global Enterprisesscrewing you before you can screw us