Main   Puzzle 8S47 by Richard Pavlicek  

Right-Sided Club Slam

The fall meeting of Puzzlers Anonymous was canceled because of the pandemic, but this didn’t stop the fanatics from a virtual gathering. A video conference was scheduled, and I just logged in to see what was up. Oh my! From pandemic to pandemonium. The clangor of voices receded a bit when Professor Freebid noticed my presence.

“Richard! Glad you could join us! I was just showing Timothy a deal from one of your BBO matches:

Board 10.  ?
 ?
 ?
 ?
Both Vul West

2 H
Pass
Pass
North

?
?
?
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 NT
?
?
S Q J 10
H K Q 10 6 5 4
D K 6 5 4
C
Table S 9 8 7
H 9 8 7
D 9 8 7
C Q 8 7 6
 ?
 ?
 ?
 ?

“As South you opened 1 NT (15-17) and West overcalled 2 H. I forgot the entire auction, but you became declarer in 5 C and made six. While 6 C is hardly biddable, you played it from the right side, as only 11 tricks can be made with North declarer. I’m assuming best play and best defense all-around, of course.”

Yes, I remember it well from last week. My hand was…

“Whoa!” interrupted the Professor. “Don’t give it away.
I want Timothy and the gang to solve it as a puzzle.”

Fair enough. Perhaps my readers would be interested too:

Construct a South hand that makes 6 C only if played by South.

Multiple solutions exist. Tiebreaking goals are (1) for the combined N-S hands to have the lowest freakness, and (2) for South to have the lowest rank sum, in that order of priority.

Try it! It’s easy because you don’t have to analyze anything. Just enter a South hand, click Verify, and you will see your complete deal with its precise double-dummy analysis. If unsuccessful, change some cards and try again.

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Jean-Christophe Clement Wins

This puzzle contest ran from September 22 to Thanksgiving Day (November 26) 2020. There were 18 entries from 11 persons (multiple entries were allowed from the same person, but only the latest one counted). Not exactly a robust turnout, but the underlying theme was difficult to see, and some people have useful things to do in their lives. Actually, I will too! My dad swore I would do something useful some day.

Only four persons found the optimal solution, and their names come as no surprise. It would be hard to find a puzzle around here without one of them near the top of the leaderboard. Well done! Ranking is by date and time of submission.

Winner List
RankNameLocation
1Jean-Christophe ClementFrance
2Foster TomCalifornia
3Charles BlairIllinois
4Jacco HopNetherlands

Another reason for the low participation is that I made no attempt to publicize the puzzle.
When I announced a previous puzzle on Bridge Winners, it was compromised by comments.

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Solution

A good starting point is to decide which suit might have a positional advantage with South declarer. The obvious candidate is diamonds, because West can’t lead a diamond safely (assuming South has the ace) while East can. This inspired about five solutions like the following:

6 C South S A 6
H J
D Q J 10
C K J 10 9 5 4 3
Trick
1 W
2 S
3 N
4 N
5 S
6 S
7 N
8 N
Lead
H K
S 2
C J
C 3
S K
S 3
C K
C 10
2nd
J
10
6
7
J
Q
8
Q
3rd
7
A
2
A
6
C 4
H 2
H 3
4th
A
7
H 4
H 5
8
9
D 4
H 6
Won
S
N
N
S
S
N
N
E
S Q J 10
H K Q 10 6 5 4
D K 6 5 4
C
Table S 9 8 7
H 9 8 7
D 9 8 7
C Q 8 7 6
S K 5 4 3 2
H A 3 2
D A 3 2
C A 2

With West on lead, 6 C is an easy make. Clubs are finessed once through East, and the spade suit is established with a ruff. Declarer gives East his natural trump trick, then North’s two losing diamonds go away on the good spades.

With East on lead, it’s a different story. The diamond entry is dislodged immediately, so declarer cannot give up the lead. If spades are established as before, East can ruff the fourth round and return a diamond for the setting trick.


While the above solution is eminently correct, it is far off the mark in the freakness department. North’s freakness (7) plus South’s freakness (2) makes a total of 9. The optimal solution shown below drops this total to only 5 (North 5 + South 0).

6 C South S A 6 5
H J
D A 3 2
C J 10 9 5 4 3
Trick
1 W
2 N
3 S
4 N
5 S
6 S
7 S
8 N
9 N
10 W
Lead
S Q
H J
H 2
S 5
D Q!
D J
H 3
D A
S 6!
H K
2nd
A!
7
5
8
4
5
6
9
9
C J
3rd
7
A
C 3
K
2
3
C 4
10
3
4th
2
4
8
10
7
8
9
6
J
Won
N
S
N
S
S
S
N
N
W
S Q J 10
H K Q 10 6 5 4
D K 6 5 4
C
Table S 9 8 7
H 9 8 7
D 9 8 7
C Q 8 7 6
S K 4 3 2
H A 3 2
D Q J 10
C A K 2

Against 6 C, suppose West leads a spade, best because it attacks communication. Declarer wins in dummy (crucial) and crosses to the H A. Next comes a heart ruff; S K; D Q-J; heart ruff; D A. (Alternately D Q-J could be led before any heart ruff; and if West covered either honor, the third round provides an entry back to South.) Finally exit with a spade to West, and on the red-suit return ruff high in dummy to smother East’s queen. Whether East overruffs or underruffs, he cannot win a trick.

So why doesn’t this work the same by North? Therein lies the crux of the puzzle: With North declarer, East can lead a trump, on which West discards a spade, thereby allowing East to win the third spade if declarer tries the same throw-in. With this defense there is no way to succeed.

Also note that with South declarer, trumps must never be led early, else West can pitch a spade for the same demise.

Foster Tom: An opening spade lead is won in dummy, so South has two entries (H A and S K) to ruff two hearts and shorten North’s trumps. Diamonds can be picked up anytime South is on lead without losing an entry. Then a spade to West smothers East. If North declares, a trump lead is deadly, allowing West to discard a spade.

Jacco Hop: Amazing puzzle. I realized yesterday while cycling that the solution likely was East leading a trump and West discarding a spade (otherwise a smother play) however it took me a while to put the dots together.

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Final Notes

Charles Blair: The club spots made me suspect the C Q might be the only successful lead, something like your Victory Celebration — which I thought was set in a prison rather than an asylum. Did you rewrite it?

No, but I may need to soon. My Zero Tolerance violations are piling up, and my ward supervisor has had to cuff me too many times. Once more, he says, and it’s San Quentin.

Professor Freebid: This concludes the fall meeting of Puzzler’s Anonymous, but may I remind you of two holiday puzzles now running: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and Trump Moves to Lilliput. Our virtual gathering does not allow the usual refreshments at this time, but I’ll be thinking of you as I carve our turkey. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and stay safe!

Food for thought: Which is greater, the number of turkeys eaten at Thanksgiving, or the number of turkeys on BBO?

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© 2020 Richard Pavlicek