Challenge 8Y57 MainAnalyses

Scores by Richard Pavlicek

How many things are beyond a shadow of a doubt? Think about it. Does an oak tree really exist? Of course, you say; but how can you be sure? Scientists can only conjecture about the space-time continuum we call the Universe; so why is a tree any different? Maybe an oak tree is just an illusion of our senses. Then again, I wouldn’t drive my car into it to find out! But then I might not even have a car — beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Defensive card play evokes a similar mystery. Your next lead often looks obvious; but is it beyond a shadow of a doubt? Perhaps there’s a subtle lead that’s better; or maybe the obvious is right after all. You can’t be sure, and you can’t rely on partner, because he faces the same troubling question. And now that we’ve come this far, do you even have a partner? — beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Think about the Master of Suspense as you try to master the defense on these six problems. As West, your opening lead and the plays to the first trick are shown. Decide your next lead from the six options, each of which is ranked on a 1-to-10 scale per my judgment.

Bidding is standard (or as noted) and you use standard leads and signals. For a reference see Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

In August 2007 these problems were presented as a contest with 725 entrants from 108 locations. The contest is closed, but you can still quiz yourself and find your score immediately. If you’re lucky, you may win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes include a bronzed oak tree branch autographed by Alfred Hitchcock, and two Cotten balls preserved in formaldehyde.
Winners must be at least 18 years of age and born before the 20th century. Employees of PavCo Scams are inedible.

Get ready for some suspense! Warm up your leading arm, but think twice before doing the obvious.

Problem 1

 Rubber BridgeE-W Vul K 10 6 J 10 7 5 3 K 4 2 4 2 YouWest3 NORTHPass3 East2 All Pass South2 A Q 8 3 2 8 2 J 10 K 9 7 5 3 South

 Trick1 W Lead J 2nd2 3rd6 4th7

Problem 2

 Rubber BridgeBoth Vul A 10 6 5 8 10 9 8 7 A 10 6 5 YouWest1 2 All Pass NorthDbl3 EastPassPass SOUTH1 2 3 NT K J 4 K Q J 9 6 2 Q K Q 9 3 NT South

 Trick1 W Lead K 2nd8 3rd3 4th5

Problem 3

 Rubber BridgeE-W Vul J 8 A K J J 9 6 4 2 K 8 4 YouWestPassPass NORTH1 1 NT4 EastPassPassAll Pass South1 3 10 9 6 5 9 4 3 A 8 Q J 10 5 4 South

 Trick1 W Lead Q 2nd4 3rd7 4th2

Problem 4

 Rubber BridgeNone Vul Q J 9 3 5 2 A 8 7 6 5 K 9 YouWest1 2 All Pass NORTHPassDbl3 EastPassPassPass South1 1 4 A 2 K Q 9 8 7 3 Q J 9 4 4 4 South

 Trick1 W Lead K 2nd2 3rd10 4th6

Problem 5

 Rubber BridgeN-S Vul Q 6 A 3 2 Q 5 4 3 K Q 9 5 YouWest1 Pass North2 5 East3 1All Pass SOUTH1 4 A K 10 9 5 4 Q 8 7 6 J 3 2 5 South

 Trick1 W Lead K 2nd6 3rd8 4th3 1. weak

Problem 6

 Rubber BridgeBoth Vul 10 9 A 10 7 6 5 9 7 J 9 6 3 YouWestPassPassPassAll Pass North1 2 NT4 EASTPassPassPassPass South1 2 4 16 7 6 5 K 8 10 4 3 K Q 8 5 2 6 South

 Trick1 W Lead K 2nd3 3rd7 4th4 1. Gerber