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Waltzing with Matilda

Congratulations! You’ve been hired by Matilda Mayer to be her partner at the Sun Valley Regional in Idaho. After 40 years of bridge playing, Matilda is nearing her goal of Life Master, and this could be her moment. Money is no object!

The meat-packing heiress (eldest daughter of Oscar) will endow you for life if you can put her over. No pressure there! Unfortunately, Matilda knows about as much about playing bridge as you do about packing bologna. Fail, and you may end up as her chauffeur, driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Matilda is eager to play bracketed knockouts, as her friends say that free masterpoints are available, courtesy of the ACBL’s going-out-of-business sale. With you as her partner she has high hopes, needing only 20 masterpoints, which is fewer than the carats of her diamond ring. Will you be her hero?

Luck of the draw places your team in an easy bracket (slipping a C-note to the Director didn’t hurt either). In your first match, you end up defending a lot, and six key deals are presented here. Matilda’s opening lead and the early play are given. As East, choose your defense from the options listed. Each option will be rated on a 1-to-10 scale per my judgment.

Bidding is standard (or as noted). For a reference see Standard American Bridge. Assume your opponents are experts. Matilda, however, is hopeless. You can depend on her opening lead to be the proper card, but little else. The only signal she knows is “high if you want me.”

In June 2007 these six problems were presented as a contest with 763 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 flawless 25-carat diamond ring (marquise cut by PavCo Diamonds) and a lifetime supply of Oscar Mayer wieners.
Winners must be at least 18 years of age and all beef, without fillers. Void in Idaho, 49 other states, and non-US locales.

After a pep talk, you sit down against your first opponents. “Hi!” charms Matilda, “Nice to meat you.”

Problem 1

IMPs
None Vul
S Q 10 9 7 2
H 6 4
D 10 7 4 2
C K 5
Matilda
West
1 D
2 D
All Pass
 
North
Pass
2 H1
You
East
1 H
Pass
 
South
1 NT
2 S
2 S SouthTable S A 4 3
H J 10 9 3
D 9
C 10 9 8 4 3

Trick
1 W
2 W
3 W
Lead
D K
D A
D 3
2nd
2
4
7
3rd
9
C 3
S 3
4th
5
Q
J

1. transfer to spades

A. Win S A; lead S 4
B. Win S A; lead H J
C. Win S A; lead C 10
D. Lead the S 4
E. Lead the H J
F. Lead the C 10

Problem 2

IMPs
E-W Vul
S A 10 6
H K 6
D K 10 8 2
C 10 6 4 3
Matilda
West

Pass
 
North

3 NT
You
East

All Pass
 
South
1 NT
3 NT SouthTable S J 9 5 3
H Q 10
D Q J 6 5
C K J 5

Trick
1 W
Lead
H 5
2nd
6
3rd
?
4th

A. H Q; cover C 10 (king)
B. H Q; cover C 10 (jack)
C. H Q; duck C 10
D. H 10; cover C 10 (king)
E. H 10; cover C 10 (jack)
F. H 10; duck C 10

Problem 3

IMPs
N-S Vul
S 2
H K Q 8 3
D A K Q 5 4
C K J 6
Matilda
West

2 S
3 S
All Pass
 
North

Dbl
Dbl
You
East

2 NT
Pass
 
South
Pass
Pass
4 H
4 H SouthTable S A 7 5
H A 6 4 2
D 7 6
C A 10 8 3

Trick
1 W
Lead
S J
2nd
2
3rd
A
4th
4

A. Lead the S 7
B. Win H A; lead S 7
C. Win H A; lead H 2
D. Lead the H 2
E. Lead the D 7
F. Lead the C 3

Problem 4

IMPs
None Vul
S 9 6 4 2
H A 7 5 4
D Q 8 6 4 2
C
Matilda
West
3 H
Pass
 
North
Pass
Pass
You
East
4 H
Dbl
 
South
4 S
All Pass
4 S× SouthTable S A 8 3
H Q
D A 10 9 7 5
C A Q 7 2

Trick
1 W
Lead
D 3
2nd
2
3rd
A
4th
K

A. Win D A; S A
B. Win D A; lead S 3
C. Win D A; lead H Q
D. Win D A; lead D 10
E. Win D A; lead D 5
F. Duck the first trick

Problem 5

IMPs
N-S Vul
S 7 4
H Q 8 2
D A 7 4 2
C 7 5 3 2
Matilda
West

4 S
 
North
Pass
5 H
You
East
2 S
All Pass
 
South
4 H
5 H SouthTable S K Q 9 8 2
H 7 4
D 9 5 3
C K 10 6

Trick
1 W
Lead
S J
2nd
4
3rd
?
4th

A. Overtake; lead S 8
B. Overtake; lead H 4
C. Overtake; lead D 3
D. Overtake; lead C 6
E. Play the S 9
F. Play the S 2

Problem 6

IMPs
E-W Vul
S J 9 5 3
H A 7 3 2
D Q 8
C K Q 4
Matilda
West
2 S
Pass
All Pass
 
North
Pass
5 H
You
East
Pass
Pass
 
South
4 H
6 H
6 H SouthTable S
H J 4
D A J 9 7 5 4 2
C 10 8 7 6

Trick
1 W
Lead
S K
2nd
3
3rd
?
4th

A. Ruff; lead H J
B. Ruff; lead D A
C. Ruff; lead D 7
D. Ruff; lead C 6
E. Pitch the D 9
F. Pitch the C 6

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© 2007 Richard Pavlicek