Main   Challenge 8X73 by Richard Pavlicek  

Six Against The Rock

Alcatraz! Isolated in the cold, turbulent waters of San Francisco Bay, the most famous American prison now sleeps. From 1934 to 1962, “The Rock” was a Federal Penitentiary, housing some of the most notorious thugs of all time, such as Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly.

Heralded as “inescapable,” the daring epithet was challenged many times — the bloodiest attempt being in 1946 (subject of the 1987 film with the above title).

It all proved true; no one ever escaped from the Penitentiary, at least according to official records. Bodies of many who tried were never recovered but declared dead, presumably from drowning. But I wonder. Did any of them actually make it?

Now it’s your turn to escape from The Rock. Plan your moves carefully, and you won’t be declared dead on 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 is standard, and opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference, see my summary of Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

In April 2006 these six problems were presented as a contest with 1056 entrants from 115 locations. 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 a four-star luxury cell at nearby San Quentin (still open for business), complete with semiprivate toilet and cell phone. Winners must be at least 18 years of age with a felony record. Employees of PavCo Corrections and their mafia family are ineligible.

Oh no! Your escape attempt has been detected and sirens are blaring. There’s only one chance: Hit the water and swim! TopMain

Problem 1

IMPs None Vul

West

Pass
All Pass
North
Pass
2 H
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
4 H

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

How do you play?

  1. Win H 9; lead spade to queen
  2. Win H 9; lead spade to nine
  3. Win H 9; C A; C K; ruff club high
  4. Win H 10; H 9; lead spade to queen
  5. Win H 10; lead diamond to queen
  6. Win H 10; lead diamond to nine
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Problem 2

IMPs N-S Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

Dbl
3 S
East
1 NT
Pass
Pass
South
Pass
2 S
4 S

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

You play the C 2 at trick one, and East continues C K-A, which you ruff. What next?

  1. Win S A; S K; lead spade
  2. Win S A; S K; H A-K; ruff heart
  3. Win S A; lead S J and duck queen
  4. Finesse the S J
  5. Win H A-K; ruff heart
  6. Win D A-K; lead diamond
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Problem 3

IMPs E-W Vul

West

Pass
Pass
North

2 C
3 NT
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 NT
2 D

3 NT South
S A J 10 8
H Q 3
D 10 9 8 7 2
C K Q
Lead: H 5TableEast plays H K on North’s queen
S 9 4 2
H A 6 4
D A Q 3
C A J 10 5

You hold up the H A, as East returns H 10 then H 8. What do you pitch, and how do you play?

  1. Pitch S 10; win D A
  2. Pitch S 10; win C K; finesse D Q
  3. Pitch S 10; win C K; run D 10
  4. Pitch D 2; run S 9
  5. Pitch D 2; lead spade to jack
  6. Pitch D 2; lead spade to eight
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Problem 4

IMPs Both Vul

West
Pass
1 S
All Pass
North
Pass
Dbl
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 D
4 H

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

After winning the S A, how do you play?

  1. Lead the H Q
  2. Lead H 7 to the king
  3. Win D K; lead heart to queen
  4. Win D K; lead heart to 10
  5. Lead C 2 to the king
  6. Lead C 2 to the jack
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Problem 5

IMPs Both Vul

West

Pass
All Pass
North

2 NT
East
1 H
3 H
South
2 C
5 C

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

You play low in dummy and ruff. What next? (All follow to first trump.)

  1. Duck a spade
  2. Win C A-K-J-10; duck spade
  3. Win C A; all trumps
  4. Win C Q; lead spade to jack
  5. Win C Q; ruff heart; win all trumps
  6. Win C Q; ruff heart; win C A-K-J; D A-K
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Problem 6

IMPs N-S Vul

West

2 H
Pass
All Pass
North

2 S
4 H
East

Pass
Pass
South
1 D
3 NT
6 D

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

How do you play? (All follow to first trump.)

  1. Win S A; lead S 5 and pitch heart
  2. Win S A; ruff spade; win all trumps
  3. Win S A; four trumps; duck heart
  4. Win S A; five trumps; duck heart
  5. Win S A; all trumps
  6. Duck the first trick

To see how you did click

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Acknowledgments to the 1987 film by Koch Vision Studios.
© 2006 Richard Pavlicek