Main   Challenge 8Y57 by Richard Pavlicek  

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Shadow of a Doubt

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 Bridge
E-W Vul
S K 10 6
H J 10 7 5 3
D K 4 2
C 4 2
You
West

3 D
 
North
Pass
3 H
 
East
2 D
All Pass
 
South
2 H
S A Q 8 3 2
H 8 2
D J 10
C K 9 7 5
Table3 H South

Trick
1 W
Lead
D J
2nd
2
3rd
6
4th
7

Your next lead: SSSHD 10  C 5

Problem 2

Rubber Bridge
Both Vul
S A 10 6 5
H 8
D 10 9 8 7
C A 10 6 5
You
West

1 H
2 H
All Pass
 
North

Dbl
3 H
 
East

Pass
Pass
 
South
1 D
2 D
3 NT
S K J 4
H K Q J 9 6 2
D Q
C K Q 9
Table3 NT South

Trick
1 W
Lead
H K
2nd
8
3rd
3
4th
5

Your next lead: SSHDCC 9

Problem 3

Rubber Bridge
E-W Vul
S J 8
H A K J
D J 9 6 4 2
C K 8 4
You
West

Pass
Pass
 
North
1 D
1 NT
4 H
 
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
 
South
1 S
3 H
S 10 9 6 5
H 9 4 3
D A 8
C Q J 10 5
Table4 H South

Trick
1 W
Lead
C Q
2nd
4
3rd
7
4th
2

Your next lead: S 10  SHDCC 10

Problem 4

Rubber Bridge
None Vul
S Q J 9 3
H 5 2
D A 8 7 6 5
C K 9
You
West

1 H
2 H
All Pass
 
North
Pass
Dbl
3 S
 
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
 
South
1 C
1 S
4 S
S A 2
H K Q 9 8 7 3
D Q J 9 4
C 4
Table4 S South

Trick
1 W
Lead
H K
2nd
2
3rd
10
4th
6

Your next lead: SSHHDC 4

Problem 5

Rubber Bridge
N-S Vul
S Q 6
H A 3 2
D Q 5 4 3
C K Q 9 5
You
West

1 S
Pass
 
North

2 C
5 D
 
East

3 S1
All Pass
 
South
1 D
4 D
S A K 10 9 5 4
H Q 8 7
D 6
C J 3 2
Table5 D South

Trick
1 W
Lead
S K
2nd
6
3rd
8
4th
3

1. weak

Your next lead: SHHDCC 2

Problem 6

Rubber Bridge
Both Vul
S 10 9
H A 10 7 6 5
D 9 7
C J 9 6 3
You
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
 
North

1 H
2 NT
4 H
 
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
 
South
1 D
2 S
4 C1
6 D
S 7 6 5
H K 8
D 10 4 3
C K Q 8 5 2
Table6 D South

Trick
1 W
Lead
C K
2nd
3
3rd
7
4th
4

1. Gerber

Your next lead: SHHD 10  DC 5

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Acknowledgments to Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) and Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
starring Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright (pictured)
© 2007 Richard Pavlicek