Main   Puzzle 8S31 by Richard Pavlicek  

Middle School Mania

Looking for a career opportunity? Want to hit the big time with little or no effort? Think PavCo! Our Personnel Division is now hiring eligible job seekers from around the globe. Qualification requires at least a middle school diploma and a residence offshore of the continental United States. Lack of integrity is a plus! We seek the shady set, so naturally we turn to the bridge world, where recent years have exposed enough crooks to fill our ranks for a lifetime.

Please don’t submit your resume! We wouldn’t believe it anyway, as even I’m a Yale graduate (I pick padlocks) with a doctorate from M.I.T. (Master of Internet Tricks) despite never getting beyond middle school. Instead, submit your solution to this puzzle. If you’re shrewd enough, you could land a dream job!*

*PavCo attorneys have forced me to add a disclaimer: You could also land in prison.
 But really! Why worry about that? If you’re shrewd enough, you should escape.

Click for a list of successful solvers

Most leads made on defense are either high (e.g., top of a sequence) or low (e.g., fourth-best or other carding method), but sometimes it is necessary to lead middle. Typically this occurs after the opening lead, when the visible holding in dummy dictates the technique. Consider the defense on the following deal:

3 NT South S Q J 7 6
H A 6 2
D J 6 3
C A Q 3
Both Vul   West


1 S
3 NT
All Pass
1 D
1 NT
S A 8 4
H J 10 9 7
D Q 10 7
C 9 7 6
Table S K 9 5 2
H 8 3
D K 8 5
C 10 8 4 2
Lead: H J S 10 3
H K Q 5 4
D A 9 4 2
C K J 5

Declarer wins the H Q and routinely attacks spades, low to the jack, king. East returns a heart to the ace; a spade goes to the 10, ace; then West leads a third heart to the king as East pitches a club. Declarer crosses in clubs to cash the S Q (pitching a diamond) then finishes clubs ending in hand. Declarer’s last resort is to throw West in with a heart to force a diamond lead.

The D J in dummy makes it imperative for West to lead middle. If declarer covers the D 10, East’s king forces the ace, then West’s D Q-7 over the nine is worth two tricks; down one. Note that declarer could succeed if West led either the D 7 or the D Q (South ducks).

Now it’s your turn to be the middle man. Earn your middle school diploma, or flunk out and see if I care!

Construct two suit layouts where West must lead his middle card to produce an extra trick.

Layouts must fit the distributions below. The winner of each trick must lead to the next, and the suit must be led continuously for four tricks. (If the winner of a trick has no more cards, the lead passes to the left to complete the trick analysis.) Successful solvers will be ranked by the weakest West holdings, with ties broken by the weakest East holdings. Strength (weakness) is judged by the sum of all card ranks.

1. Notrump D  
D Table D
West leads D  

2. Notrump C  
C Table C
West leads C    

To see if your solutions are successful click

If desired, you may submit your solutions using the form below. This may be done only once, and doing so will add your name to the list of successful solvers, ranked according to the tiebreakers. You will also receive an automatic reply with a copy of your solutions and what Richard believes are the optimal solutions.

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