Main   Challenge 8X49 by Richard Pavlicek  

Finesses of Frankenstein

On a dark, stormy night you seek shelter at a nearby castle, and knock on the door. No one answers. A light in the tower indicates someone is there, so you knock harder, “Please! Let me in!”

“Go away!” a voice shouts. “The storm is almost at its peak, and I must not be disturbed. Power from the heavens is imminent. I beg you to go away!”

Lightning bolts zap the castle, shaking the tower. Ten minutes later the door opens. “Sorry, I was conducting an experiment,” says Dr. Henry Frankenstein. “Do you play bridge? I must test out my new partner. Come, we will play in the laboratory.”

You’d agree to almost anything to get out of the storm and follow Henry to his laboratory, where he sits down opposite a hideous creature about seven feet tall! “Please have a seat on my right,” Henry says. “My assistant will be your partner. Fritz? Come, Fritz! We’re ready to play.”

On these six problems, Dr. Frankenstein (South) is declarer and takes a finesse early in the play. As East, do you win the trick or duck? Choose your defense from the options listed; each option will be rated on a 1-to-10 scale per my judgment.

Bidding is standard (except as noted). For a reference, see my outline of Standard American Bridge. Dr. Frankenstein is an expert. Fritz, however, has about the same intellect as the monster, so don’t put any faith in his signals. All he knows is to lead the proper spot card.

In October of 2005 these six problems were presented as a contest with 904 entrants from 114 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 six cerebellum transplants (certified normal) and a 12-step program in electroshock therapy. Winners must be at least 18 years of age and be a Life Burgomaster in their NCBO. Employees of PavCo Body Parts are ineligible.

Warning! Sit back and lean to the left, not to see declarer’s hand but to stay clear of dummy. “It’s alive!” Henry shrieks as he plans the play. “Fritz! Put down that torch!” TopMain

Problem 1

Rubber Bridge None Vul

West
Fritz

Pass
Pass
North
Monster
Pass
2 H*
3 NT
East
You
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
Frankenstein
1 NT
2 S
*Burgomaster transfer

3 NT South
S A K 10 5 2
H Q J 8
D J 3
C J 5 4
TableS Q 7 6 4
H 7 3 2
D K 9 5
C Q 10 3

Fritz leads the H 6; eight, two, 10. South next runs the S J (Fritz plays S 3). Your defense?

  1. Win S Q; lead S 4
  2. Win S Q; lead H 7
  3. Win S Q; lead D 9
  4. Win S Q; lead D 5
  5. Win S Q; lead C 3
  6. Duck smoothly
TopMain

Problem 2

Rubber Bridge N-S Vul

West
Fritz

Pass
Pass
North
Monster

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

4 H South
S A 8 6
H A 9 3 2
D J 9 6 2
C 7 2
TableS Q 9 2
H K 6 5
D A 5 3
C J 9 6 4

Fritz leads the C 5; two, jack, ace. South next runs the H Q (Fritz plays H 4). Your defense?

  1. Win H K; lead S Q
  2. Win H K; lead S 2
  3. Win H K; lead H 5
  4. Win H K; lead D 3
  5. Win H K; lead C 4
  6. Duck smoothly
TopMain

Problem 3

Rubber Bridge N-S Vul

West
Fritz

Pass
Pass
North
Monster

1 H
6 NT
East
You

Pass
All Pass
South
Frankenstein
1 D
2 NT

6 NT South
S J 2
H A Q J 5 2
D A 7
C K 7 5 3
TableS 9 7 6
H K 3
D Q J 4 3
C 10 9 8 6

Fritz leads the S 3; two, nine, king. South leads the H 4 (Fritz plays H 6) to the queen. Your defense?

  1. Win H K; lead S 7
  2. Win H K; lead H 3
  3. Win H K; lead D J
  4. Win H K; lead D 4
  5. Win H K; lead C 10
  6. Duck smoothly
TopMain

Problem 4

Rubber Bridge None Vul

West
Fritz
Pass
Pass
Pass
North
Monster
1 S
2 NT
Pass
East
You
Pass
Pass
Dbl
South
Frankenstein
1 NT
3 NT
All Pass

3 NT× South
S A K 8 4 2
H 9 8 3
D A Q 6
C K 2
TableS Q J 10 9 7
H J 10 2
D K 5 2
C A 9

Fritz leads the H 4; nine, 10, king. South leads the D 9 (Fritz plays D 4) to the queen. Your defense?

  1. Win D K; lead S Q
  2. Win D K; lead H 2
  3. Duck; next duck C K
  4. Duck; win C A; lead S Q
  5. Duck; win C A; lead H 2
  6. Duck; win C A; lead C 9
TopMain

Problem 5

Rubber Bridge Both Vul

West
Fritz

Pass
All Pass
North
Monster

3 S
East
You

Pass
South
Frankenstein
1 S
4 S

4 S South
S K Q 9 2
H 10 6 4
D A J 10 9
C Q J
TableS 6 3
H J 9 8
D K 5 2
C K 10 7 6 5

Fritz leads the C 3; queen, seven, two. Declarer wins S K, S J (Fritz follows) and leads the D 7 (Fritz plays D 4) to the jack. Your defense?

  1. Win D K; lead H J
  2. Win D K; lead H 9
  3. Win D K; lead H 8
  4. Win D K; lead D 5
  5. Win D K; lead C K
  6. Duck smoothly
TopMain

Problem 6

Rubber Bridge None Vul

West
Fritz

Pass
Pass
North
Monster
1 C
3 S
5 H
East
You
Pass
Pass
Dbl
South
Frankenstein
2 S
4 NT
6 S (AP)

6 S South
S A 9 2
H Q 7 6 4
D 3 2
C A Q 9 8
TableS 7 3
H K J 9 8
D Q J 4
C K 10 7 4

Fritz leads the D 6; two, jack, ace. South next runs the C J (Fritz plays C 2). Your defense?

  1. Win C K; lead S 3
  2. Win C K; lead H 9
  3. Win C K; lead D Q
  4. Win C K; lead D 4
  5. Win C K; lead C 10
  6. Duck smoothly

To see how you did click

TopMain

Acknowledgments to Mary Shelley (1797-1851)
and the film Frankenstein (1931) by Universal Pictures.
© 2005 Richard Pavlicek