Main   Challenge 8X17 by Richard Pavlicek  

Mission: Implausible

Good morning, Mr. Phelps. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to infiltrate the finals of the National Open Pairs. It seems our Director, one Barry Crane (pictured here with his bodyguards) has left his position to pursue ACBL masterpoints and must be stopped from winning this prestigious event.

Surveillance shows Mr. Crane always sits South, so it is important that you and your chosen IMF agents sit North-South, not only to ensure direct comparisons but to avoid contact that may arouse suspicion.

Mr. Crane is a shrewd operative, so you may have to recruit additional IMF members for this insurgence.

See if you qualify for the IMF (Implausible Matchpoint Force) by trying these six problems. Simply choose your play from the options listed; each option will be rated on a 1-to-10 scale, per my judgment.

Bidding and defensive leads and carding are standard. For a reference, see my outline of Standard American Bridge. Opponents are average tournament players.

In February 2005 these problems were presented as a contest with 1153 entrants from 118 locations around the world. The contest is closed, but you can still quiz yourself and find your score immediately. If you’re lucky, you might even win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes include three master-of-disguise kits and a weekend at the IMF barracks with Cinnamon or Barney (your choice). Winners must be at least 18 years of age and have PIA clearance (Level 3). Employees of PavCo Intelligence Agency are ineligible.

As always, should you or any member of the I.M. Force fail on this mission, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. TopMain

Problem 1

Matchpoints N-S Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North

2 C
4 H
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 NT
2 H

4 H South
S A 6 5 3
H K J 9 7
D 5 2
C A 6 4
Lead: S 2TableEast plays S 10
S K 9
H A Q 10 8
D A K 8 3
C J 7 5

After winning the S K, how do you play?

  1. Win S A; ruff spade
  2. Win two trumps; S A; ruff spade
  3. Win two trumps; D A; S A; D K
  4. Win two trumps; D A-K; ruff diamond
  5. Win D A-K; ruff diamond
  6. Duck a club
TopMain

Problem 2

Matchpoints E-W Vul

West

Pass
North

2 S
East

All Pass
South
1 S

2 S South
S A J 2
H 9 7 6 3
D Q 9 2
C Q 9 2
Lead: H QTableEast plays H 8
S K Q 10 7 6
H 2
D 5 4 3
C A K 5 4

West continues with the H 5 to East’s ace, and you ruff. Your play? (Trumps split 3-2)

  1. Draw trumps; lead a diamond
  2. Win S A; S K; lead a diamond
  3. Win S K; S A; ruff heart
  4. Win S K; S A; C A; C Q
  5. Win S K; S A; C Q; C A
  6. Lead a diamond
TopMain

Problem 3

Matchpoints Both Vul

West

Pass
North

3 NT
East

All Pass
South
1 NT

3 NT South
S K 6
H 7 3 2
D A Q 10 7 5 2
C J 3
Lead: S 4TableEast plays S 10
S Q J
H K J 10
D 6 4 3
C A K Q 10 2

After winning the S J, how do you play?

  1. Lead the S Q
  2. Finesse the D Q
  3. Finesse the D 10
  4. Win C J; lead heart to king
  5. Win C J; lead heart to jack
  6. Run the club suit
TopMain

Problem 4

Matchpoints N-S Vul

West
3 C
All Pass
North
Dbl
East
Pass
South
3 H

3 H South
S A K 8 6 3
H Q 7 3
D K 8 6 3
C Q
Lead: S 7TableEast plays S 2
S J 10 9 5
H K J 10 8 4
D Q 10
C J 7

After winning the S K (playing 10 from hand), how do you play?

  1. Lead the H Q
  2. Lead the H 3
  3. Lead the D K
  4. Lead D 3 to queen
  5. Lead D 3 and finesse 10
  6. Lead the C Q
TopMain

Problem 5

Matchpoints E-W Vul

West

Dbl
Pass
North

Rdbl
3 S
East

3 H
All Pass
South
2 S
Dbl
IMF subversion in action

3 S South
S K 3 2
H 9 5 3
D 7 5
C A Q 7 6 3
Lead: D KTableEast plays D 2
S Q J 10 6 5
H K
D A 8 6 4
C 8 5 4

You duck, and West shifts to the S 4; two, eight, jack. What now?

  1. Lead the S Q
  2. Lead the S 5
  3. Lead the H K
  4. Win D A; ruff diamond
  5. Finesse the C Q
  6. Duck a club
TopMain

Problem 6

Matchpoints None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North

2 NT
4 S
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 S
3 S

4 S South
S K 4
H A K Q 4
D 9 8 4 2
C A 10 5
Lead: C JTableEast plays C 3
S A Q J 10 6
H 5 2
D A 7
C K 6 4 2

Sorry, you won’t earn anything extra for 100 honors. Your play?

  1. Win C A; draw trumps
  2. Win C A; lead club to king
  3. Win C K; draw trumps
  4. Win C K; lead hearts
  5. Win C K; lead club to ace
  6. Duck the first trick

To see how you did click

TopMain

Acknowledgments to Mission: Impossible (1966-73) CBS Television and
Barry Crane (1927-85) TV Director and matchpoint wizard of all time.
© 2005 Richard Pavlicek