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Concerto in A Minor

One hundred years ago the world was saddened by the death of Edvard Grieg. The famous Norwegian composer is best remembered for his piano opus of my title, which suggests he may have been a bridge player, albeit obsessed with a minor suit. Grieg was raised in Bergen, Norway, where he composed a minor duet (3 C and 3 D?) later to be dubbed Bergen Raises. Hmm… Is Marty a thief?

At the age of 15, Grieg enrolled in the famous Leipzig Conservatory, no doubt accounting for his conservative bidding. Later he was nicknamed the “Chopin of the North,” which historians believe to be a tribute to his creative dummy play. Even more convincing was his affinity for the key of A minor, with its chord notes spelling ACE. I rest my case.

Now it’s your turn to play a few notes. Each of these problems presents a concerto, er, contract in “A minor.” As South, simply choose your play from the options (A-F) listed. Each option will be rated on a 1-to-10 scale per my judgment.

Bidding is standard, and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference see Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

In May 2007 these six problems were presented as a contest with 761 entrants from 110 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 grand piano by Steinway, PavCo & Son (Rich is building it now) and 12 books of Grieg Classics. Winners must be
at least 18 years of age. Prizes void where inhibited by Law. Residents and non-residents of Bergen, Norway are ineligible.

Imagine if Grieg were a teenage employee of PavCo Diamonds… He’d be a minor miner in A minor.

Problem 1

IMPs
N-S Vul
S 10 8 4 3
H J 10 5
D K 9 5 4
C 5 2
West

1 S
All Pass
North
Pass
Pass
East
1 C
2 S
South
Pass
3 C
Lead: S 2TableEast wins S A



3 C South
S 5
H A 7 2
D A 6 3
C A Q 10 9 7 6

East returns the S 6, you ruff, and West plays the S 7. What next?

A. Lead the H 2
B. Win D A; D K; finesse C Q
C. Win D K; finesse C Q
D. Duck a diamond
E. Win C A; lead C Q
F. Lead the C 10

Problem 2

IMPs
Both Vul
S A J
H 10 5 2
D 7 5 3
C 10 6 5 3 2
West

2 H
Pass
North

Pass
3 D
East
1 H
Pass
All Pass
South
2 D
2 S
Lead: C QTableEast plays C 7



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

A. Win C A; S A; lead S J
B. Win C A; finesse S J
C. Win C A; lead H 9
D. Win C A; lead C 4
E. Duck; win C A; S A; lead S J
F. Duck; win C A; finesse S J

Note: East plays the C K on second club.

Problem 3

IMPs
None Vul
S 7 6 4 3 2
H A K 5 2
D A 3
C K J
West
1 D
Pass
North
Dbl
Pass
East
1 S
Pass
South
5 C
Lead: C 2TableEast plays C 5



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

After winning the C K, what next?

A. Lead spade and pitch diamond
B. Ruff spade; win D A; ruff spade
C. Ruff spade; duck a diamond
D. Ruff spade; win C J; ruff spade
E. Win D A; lead D 3
F. Lead the D 3

Note: If you lead a spade, East plays the S 8.

Problem 4

IMPs
N-S Vul
S A Q J 5
H Q 6 4 2
D J 4
C K 7 3
West
Pass
2 H
Pass
North
1 C
Pass
5 D
East
1 H
Pass
All Pass
South
2 D
4 D
Lead: H JTableEast wins H K
(overtakes)



5 D South
S 6 2
H 3
D A 10 9 8 7 6 5
C A J 6

East shifts to the S 3 (West plays S 7) won by dummy’s jack. What next?

A. Ruff heart; cash D A
B. Lead D J to ace; lead D 5
C. Run D J (loses); win S A; D A
D. Run D J (loses); win S A; finesse D 10
E. Run D J (loses); finesse S Q; win D A
F. Run D J (loses); finesse S Q; D 10

Problem 5

IMPs
E-W Vul
S Q J 6
H K 3
D A 2
C A 10 9 7 6 5
West

Pass
Pass
North

3 C
6 C
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 C
3 NT
Lead: H QTableEast plays H 5



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

A. Win H K; lead S Q
B. Win H K; H A; run C Q
C. Win H K; C A
D. Win H A; lead S 10
E. Win H A; lead C Q to ace
F. Win H A; run C Q

Problem 6

IMPs
None Vul
S 3
H 4 2
D A 7 6 5 4 3
C A K 7 2
West

Pass
3 S
All Pass
North

3 D
4 C
East

Dbl
Pass
South
1 D
Pass
6 D
Lead: H JTableEast plays H 7



6 D South
S A 10 6 5
H A 9 3
D K Q 9 2
C 4 3

A. Win H A; S A; ruff spade; lead H 4
B. Win H A; lead H 3
C. Win H A; D K
D. Duck; win H A; S A; ruff spade
E. Duck; win H A; ruff heart
F. Duck; win H A; D K

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© 2007 Richard Pavlicek