Main   Puzzle 8S77 by Richard Pavlicek  

Valentine’s Hat Trick

Recent archaeological discoveries on the banks of the Tiber near Ponte Milvio cast new light on the lifestyle of Valentinus, the patron saint of Rome. While generally considered a righteous, devout Christian, evidence now reveals Saint Valentine was hardly a saint but had a gambling addiction at poker and bridge, as well as a lust for alcoholic beverages. On the Ides of December, a marble slab was unearthed with the following inscription:

Victor triplici→ Cum regia ruborem, cor quattuor, et in celia. -Valentinus CCLVII

Some words rang a bell from high-school Latin, but I needed Google Translate to obtain:

Triple winner→ Royal flush, four hearts, and a brew. -Saint Valentine A.D. 257

Etched on the reverse side of the slab was a curious diagram:

Cor quattuor S 4 3 2
H 9 8
D K Q J 10 9
C 4 3 2
S K Q J 10 9
H 4 3 2
D 8
C A 8 7 5
Table S A 8 6
H 7 6 5
D 6 5
C K Q J 10 9
Cum regia
S 7 5
H A K Q J 10
D A 7 4 3 2
C 6

Saint Valentine apparently was South, with a royal flush versus everyone else’s king-high straight flush, which would win a huge pot at poker (imagine the raising). Further, at bridge he was cold for 4 H, while the most East-West could make was 3 S. But what about the brew? Aha! South can win a beer in 4 H by pitching a diamond from dummy as trumps are drawn, then maneuvering to win the last trick with the D 7.

For those who think bridge did not exist back then, you are wrong — and I have proof!

Alas, third-century gaming is ancient history. Poker these days has hit a roadblock, with many casinos forced to close their doors because of the pandemic, so forget about winning. Now is the time to think losing at poker, which brings me to the puzzle:

Construct a deal where South can make 4 H and win a beer against any defense, but with bad poker hands.

Of course gazillions of such deals exist, especially with “How bad is bad?” undefined. Ties will by broken by worst poker hands, in the order of priority: North, South, West, East. Poker hands are determined by choosing whichever five cards (out of 13) produce the best poker hand.

Note: There are 7462 distinct poker hands, of which only 1903 can be best in 13 cards.



Use the form below if you wish to submit a solution. Entries will be accepted until February 13 at midnight GMT. You may submit multiple times, but only the latest one counts. The best solutions will be published here on Valentine’s Day with acknowledgment to the top solvers.

4 H South S
Table East will get
what remains
to view deal

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© 2020 Richard Pavlicek