Analyses 8Y72 by Richard Pavlicek
Sorry Im late, but Dad let me drive the Nash Rambler. Only catch, was I had to take it in to the dealer for an oil change and new wiper blades. While waiting, I walked over to the record store, as I was anxious to get my hands on Ricky Nelsons Poor Little Fool, which he sang on Ozzie and Harriet last week. Luckily, the store had just received a shipment of new 45s, and there it was. Best 30 cents I ever spent!
When I walked back to the Nash dealer, the car wasnt ready, and the mechanic said it needed new spark plugs, which would cost an extra four bucks. What a rip-off! Oh well, Dad can afford it. Around Christmastime, Dad plans to trade in the Rambler, and hes leaning toward the new Studebaker Commander, which has a built-in clock and radio. Wow! Whatll they think of next.
These six play problems were published on the Internet in September 2007, and all bridge players were invited to submit their answers. As declarer on each problem, all you had to do was choose your line of play from the choices offered.
This contest had 644 entrants from 104 locations, and the average score was 38.89. Congratulations to Ding-Hwa Hsieh (Kirksville, Missouri), who was the first of 10 to submit perfect scores. What dominance! In the 2007 series, this is her third win and fifth perfect score; she is the overall leader with a perfect average (only Rainer Herrmann did this before) and first in all 17 stat categories. Also scoring 60 were Darek Kardas (Poland); Perry Groot (Netherlands); Dale Freeman (Ontario); Franco Chiarugi (Greece); Imre Csiszar (Hungary); Tim DeLaney (South Bend, Indiana); Joon Pahk (Massachusetts); Jordi Sabate (Spain); and Jim Munday (Camarillo, California).
Average score (38.89) was the third lowest in the series (June 37.65 was lowest), yet surprisingly four problems were aced by the consensus. This inconsistency was caused mainly by widely diverse answers, although the consensus collapse on Problem 3 was definitely a factor. Only 313 persons scored above average (39+) to make the list. Only one problem (#5) was close indeed, requiring prolonged study to determine the winner.
Retaining the top position in the overall standings (surprise, surprise) is Ding-Hwa Hsieh, increasing her average to a perfect 60.00. Not far behind with 59.25 is Darek Kardas, followed by Jerry Fink (Ohio) and Jordi Sabate, each with 59.00. Next with 58.75 are John Lusky (Oregon), Lajos Linczmayer (Hungary), Joanna Sliwowska (Poland) and Jim Munday.
Hey Jude! Remember, to let her into your heart; then you can start, to make it better. Special thanks to Jude Goodwin for her continual help in promoting my monthly events. For years, she has regularly provided an attractive, front-page link at her excellent site Great Bridge Links. In contrast, other major sites that I have asked specifically ACBL, WBF and Ecats have done nothing.
Each problem offered six plausible lines of play (A-F). The merit of each is scored on a 1-to-10 scale based on my judgment, which is also aided by some of the comments received.
|3 NT South|| Q 10 4|
A 7 3
6 5 4 3
10 8 2
|Lead: K (wins)||East plays 9|
| A 6 2|
A K 8
A K J 9 5
West next leads the Q (East plays 5) as you duck, then the Q (East plays 2). Your play?
|C. Win A; lead 5||10||184||29|
|A. Win A; A-K||7||174||27|
|D. Duck; win A; A-K||5||116||18|
|B. Win A; A; lead 5||3||73||11|
|E. Duck; win A; A; lead 5||2||53||8|
|F. Duck; win A; lead 5||1||44||7|
Autumn colors abound. Perhaps West was inspired by orange and yellow leaves to lead two shades of red: first hearts, then diamonds. Apparently, from Easts signal of the 9, West has K-Q-10 alone; and after two ducks he realized the futility of setting up hearts with East entryless. Excellent defense, as a third heart would put you on easy street.
Nine tricks are in grasp by setting up clubs and the Q (West must have the K), but tempo is not. Unless the Q or K drops, West will be able to set up his diamonds before you can develop both black suits. Therefore, you only have time to establish clubs, and your ninth trick will have to come from an endplay against West. Consider a likely layout:
|3 NT|| Q 10 4|
A 7 3
6 5 4 3
10 8 2
| K J 3|
K Q 10
Q J 9 7
Q 7 3
| 9 8 7 5|
J 9 6 5 2
| A 6 2|
A K 8
A K J 9 5
After leading K-Q (ducked), West switches to the Q. Clearly, it would be wrong to lead spades early to create an entry for the club finesse (destined to lose on the bidding), and I wouldnt even insult you with that option. The obvious plan is to cash the top clubs (Line A or D), as theres a fair chance Wests queen is short. Alas, if the Q doesnt fall, youre in dire straits, having no way to reach the A in time.
What about cashing just one top club (Line B or E) before conceding a club? This insures an entry to dummy. Suppose you win the A, cash the A, and lead a low club (Line B). West wins and returns a diamond (not obvious but necessary), which leaves communication problems. If you win and cross to the 10 to cash the A, you cant return to your hand without using the A, thus losing your endplay.
Proper play is to win the A and lead a low club immediately (Line C), and our consensus nailed it. West does best to win* and return a diamond to your king. Now you can cross to the 10, cash the A to pitch a spade, and finish clubs to reduce your hand to three cards: A-6 8. If West pitches a diamond to keep his K guarded, you will exit with a diamond for the endplay; otherwise, the K will drop. Based on the bidding, Line C is a virtual lock.
*On a good day, West might even duck, allowing an easy overtrick.
A distant second goes to winning the A and cashing A-K (Line A). If the Q drops, you will score a lucky overtrick; but otherwise, you can hang up your rake, as there is no further hope aside from a blank K.
Third place goes to ducking the diamond and cashing A-K (Line D), which loses the possibility of an overtrick when the Q drops. Further, when it fails to drop, you will be down two, since endplay chances are gone and you cant reach the A.
Other plays are almost nullo against best defense. Cashing only one top club before leading the 5 only works if the Q has already fallen (or the K is blank). Between Lines B and E, Line B gets the edge for its overtrick chance.
Worst of all, and completely nullo (save a blank K), is to duck the diamond and lead a low club (Line F). Well, I suppose theres always a glimmer of hope that West might misdefend.
While were on a reminiscing theme, this problem goes back to 1981, when I created it (modified from an actual deal) for the Gold Coast Bridge News.* That was the same year I got my first computer, a Northstar Advantage, 2 Mhz, 64K memory, and two 8-inch floppy drives (no hard disk). Wow! My eyes lit up like headlights. Nothing could ever top that.
*Magazine is now defunct no surprise after publishing my articles.
Perry Groot: Giving up a trick to the Q to have communication to cash the A and all clubs, leading to a squeeze throw-in.
Dale Freeman: I need to create an entry to dummy, and this gives maximum communication, allowing me to cash one heart, two diamonds and four clubs. Then I will exit with a diamond to endplay West, unless the count shows he is down to a singleton K.
Franco Chiarugi: East has the J and cannot have the K. West has three hearts, else he would have continued a third round; and he is very likely to have at least four diamonds. With these hypotheses, I can always succeed [Play described] to reach the following ending: Q-10-4 opposite A-6 8.
Imre Csiszar: This guarantees 3 NT unless West made an unlikely deceptive play holding K-Q-10-x. An ending will be reached with Q-10-4 opposite A-6 8, and I will have the count to win two more tricks
Tim DeLaney: Wests play suggests only three hearts, and likely four diamonds. He needs the K for his bid, so he can be endplayed regardless of the location of the Q. This ensures an entry to dummy; then I win the diamond return (nothing matters), cross to the 10, cash the A (spade pitch) and run clubs. I will have a complete count
Joon Pahk: I have no late entry to dummy for a simple squeeze, so Ill try for a two-loser squeeze against West. I cant afford to lose the second club, because a diamond return would [ruin my communication].
Jordi Sabate: I need to endplay West for my last trick (he has the K), so I have to win the A. Also, its necessary to enter dummy ( 10 or 8) to win the A and return to hand with a club. Only Line C combines all options.
Jim Munday: The defense suggests West has three hearts, and [the bidding] suggests he has at least four diamonds. If so, I can endplay him to force a spade lead; but I must lead a low club right away to keep entries fluid.
Steve White: To strip-squeeze West in diamonds and spades, I must keep transportation in clubs to cash the A and run clubs.
Lajos Linczmayer: West seems to have three hearts. If he has four clubs, say, K-J K-Q-10 Q-J-10-7 Q-x-x-x, this play avoids entry problems. If West ducks, I play a club to the ace and a low spade.
Bruce Neill: This way, I can get to dummy with a club, cash the A, then run clubs necessary to endplay West if he has, e.g., K-x-x K-Q-x Q-J-9-x Q-x-x.
Jerry Fink: Wests opening bid surely was based on the K, K-Q and Q-J, plus another black-suit honor, which leaves him vulnerable to a strip squeeze (provided I get the count right on his hand). The trap is not to take my time in clubs the necessary suit to get to dummy to cash the A and return to hand for the squeeze.
John Auld: West has three hearts. I plan to enter dummy [with a club], cash the A, run clubs, and endplay West.
John Lusky: This allows me to reach the A at the right time; then run clubs to strip-squeeze West.
Roger Morton: Odds are West has all the points. I plan to throw him in to lead a spade in the endgame, but I need an entry to cash the A before running clubs.
Leif-Erik Stabell: West should have the K and K-Q-10, so the position of the Q is irrelevant.
David Kenward: This forces an entry to dummy, and I will hopefully strip-squeeze West later.
Neelotpal Sahai: Idea is to create an entry to dummy to cash the A. Assuming West has the K and 4+ diamonds, he will be endplayed in diamonds to lead from the K unless he bares it, then Ill cash the A.
John Reardon: I need entries in clubs to cash the A before strip-squeezing West.
Rob Stevens: To strip-squeeze West, his last heart must be removed, which means creating an entry to dummy and being able to return to hand in clubs.
Douglas Dunn: I will win the diamond return, play a club to dummy, take the A and run clubs, aiming to throw West in with a diamond. If West follows to three clubs, he will have at least four diamonds.
Julian Wightwick: [Playing] to strip-squeeze West in spades and diamonds. The defense will win the Q and clear diamonds; then I cross to dummy in clubs to cash the A and return in clubs. I cannot afford to cash even one top club first.
Toby Kenney: Setting up a squeeze endplay. When West clears diamonds, I can reach the A, finish clubs, then either exit in diamonds or drop the K.
Gabor Lippner: Planning to strip-squeeze West.
David Brooks: This guarantees the contract if West has the K and four or more diamonds.
Sebastien Louveaux: Early play shows East has J-9-x-x-x. I must preserve club entries to cash the A and run clubs to strip West, then throw him in to lead from the K. (He can only keep one diamond winner to guard the K.)
Thijs Veugen: I plan to endplay West to lead a spade, if he has something like K-x K-Q-10 Q-J-x-x-x Q-x-x.
Rainer Herrmann: Elementary, my dear Watson.
Manuel Paulo: Consider this possible West hand: K-x K-Q-10 Q-J-10-9-7 Q-x-x. West must go up with the Q; then I win the diamond return, cross to the 10, cash the A (discarding a spade) and run clubs to strip-squeeze West.
Rob Wijman: I must retain the 8 and preserve communication for a throw-in against West
Mark Chen: I need a club entry to dummy to cash the A, and another club to get back to hand. On the last club, West will have to come down to three cards either unguarding the K, or being thrown in with a diamond to lead from it.
N. Scott Cardell: Easts play of the 9 shows the J and denies the 10, so Wests switch suggests exactly K-Q-10. West needs the K and 4+ diamonds for his bidding, so he can be strip-squeezed. To force a club entry to dummy, I lead the 5 to the eight If the 8 wins, I cash the A and lead a second club; if East follows, I finesse to protect against East having Q-x-x-x.*
*Scott makes a good point that if you greedily assume West has the Q, a clever duck by East could set you; however, not cashing the A and returning to the K (as Lajos Linczmayer suggested) preserves the overtrick chance without risk.
Jacques Cloutier: West should not have five diamonds (he would lead them) or four hearts (he would continue); so he has a hand like K-x-x K-Q-10 Q-J-10-7 Q-x-x, maybe 4-2 or 2-4 in the black suits. [Play described].
Carsten Kofoed: Even if West has K-x-x-x K-Q-x Q-J-x-x Q-x, he will be endplayed. I must keep club communication.
Dean Pokorny: A throw-in will develop I must be careful to retain the 10 entry to cash the A.
David Grainger: I need two-way communication in clubs to cash the A and [return to hand] for a strip squeeze against West. This needs West to have four diamonds and the K very likely.
Okan Ozcan: This allows a second club to reach dummy (cash A) then a club return to hand, eventually endplaying West.
Junyi Zhu: Planning to endplay West with the third diamond. I must lead a low club on the first round to ensure an entry to dummy for the A and an entry to hand in clubs.
Bill Powell: Ensuring a club entry to dummy to cash the A, and another back to hand to run clubs. West will be strip-squeezed.
Jean-Christophe Clement: Only way to maintain communication and develop an endplay against West.
Brad Theurer: I must maintain transportation in clubs, both to dummy (to cash the A) and back to hand for a potential strip squeeze against West, who almost surely has 4+ diamonds and the K.
Bill Daly: [To preserve communication]. If I cash a top club first (Line B), I will have to use the third club to reach dummy for the A; then I cant return to hand in clubs for the strip squeeze.
Bineet Jha: Ducking a diamond loses my throw-in card against West. Cashing a top club before leading small is fraught with danger, losing an entry back to hand
Gerald Cohen: Blasting an entry to dummy to cash the A, and to operate a strip squeeze (assuming my K is knocked out).
Gerald seems to have confused strip-squeezing
with strip-mining. Stand back!
|4 South|| A 5|
A 6 4 3
A 7 5 4
8 5 3
|Lead: 6||East wins A|
| 6 4 3 2|
K Q 5 2
K Q J 6
East shifts to the J (West plays 7). How do you play?
|C. Win K; duck spade||10||213||33|
|B. Win K; A; lead 5||8||122||19|
|A. Win K; A; ruff club||6||151||23|
|D. Win K-Q||5||45||7|
|E. Win A; A; lead 5||3||98||15|
|F. Win A; lead 5||2||15||2|
You have reached an excellent contract, virtually laydown with a 3-2 trump break; but Easts takeout double forebodes a 4-1 break. Even so, you should be able to prevail by winning one spade, three trumps, four diamonds and two club ruffs in hand provided you retain trump control and dont suffer more than one diamond ruff.
Instead of ruffing two clubs, another possibility is to try to ruff two spades in dummy; but this is inconvenient. You would have to give up the lead, then a club return would tap your hand, forcing you to lose trump control if you ruffed in dummy as well. Ruffing clubs is clearly a better plan, since youre all set to proceed. Consider a likely layout:
|4 || A 5|
A 6 4 3
A 7 5 4
8 5 3
| Q 9 7|
10 8 3 2
J 9 7 6 4
| K J 10 8|
J 10 9 8
A Q 10 2
| 6 4 3 2|
K Q 5 2
K Q J 6
After the 6 lead to the ace and the J switch, suppose you continue in straightforward fashion: Win the K, cross to the A, ruff a club (Line A), cross to the A, ruff the last club and cash the Q. Alas, youre stranded in your hand. If you lead a spade, opponents will tap dummy with a spade or club, then youve lost control. If you lead a top diamond, East will ruff, underlead to his partner in spades, and get a second diamond ruff.
Better timing is required. To break the enemy line of communication, you should give up a spade early while you have everything under control. Proper play is to win the K and duck a spade (Line C). Suppose East wins and returns a trump (nothing matters): Win the Q, cross to the A, ruff a club, cross to the A, ruff the last club, and lead good diamonds until East ruffs. Whatever the return, you can ruff in dummy and draw Easts last trump.
Second place goes to winning the K and playing ace and another spade (Line B). While failing in the diagram, this works if either red suit splits 3-2. If a trump is returned (East having four), you can win in dummy and proceed to ruff two spades, using diamond entries to hand. If instead you are tapped with a spade or club, you can negotiate a second ruff in the same suit and retain control.
Third place goes to winning the K, crossing to the A and ruffing a club (Line A). This fails even with diamonds 3-2 (assuming East has four hearts) in a curious sort of way, provided West can gain the lead in spades. Suppose you next cash the Q, cross to the A, ruff the last club, and lead two top diamonds. If East is 4=4=2=3, he can ruff and put West in with a spade for a club lead to promote his last trump. If East is 3=4=2=4, he must pitch (top spade or club) on the third diamond to beat you.
A close fourth goes to winning K-Q immediately (Line D), which essentially reverts to Line A, because your only chance against 4-1 hearts is to use dummys entries to ruff two clubs and hope East cant reach West in spades.
Much worse is to win the A first (Line E or F), which always fails with the likely 4-1 heart break. This prevents you from ruffing two clubs (low), so your only hope is to ruff two spades in dummy, which requires giving up the lead; then a club return taps your hand, forcing you to lose control. The edge goes to Line E, which secures an overtrick in some layouts by allowing an immediate spade ruff upon regaining the lead.
Evidently, my autumn theme was an inspiration for the consensus, nailing the first two problems of the set. Will the streak continue? Well, in the old days streaking was considered cool indeed, literally on a chilly day.
Perry Groot: Hearts are likely 1-4. The spade duck keeps control and communication, in order to ruff either two clubs in hand or two spades in dummy and it kills opponents communication as well.
Dale Freeman: Probably both red suits are 4-1. I must use the A and A to ruff two clubs in hand; however, I cannot give up spade control yet.
Franco Chiarugi: If hearts are 3-2, there is no problem; but I can also win against hearts 4-1. Plan is to break opponents communication before ruffing two clubs in hand, else East may ruff a diamond and reach West for a second diamond ruff.
Tim DeLaney: I cant go wrong if trumps are 3-2. To guard against four hearts with East, I first duck a spade (scissors coup), then ruff two clubs in hand and play diamonds. East will be able to ruff, but has no way to cross the table for a second ruff.
Joon Pahk: If East has four trumps, I want to save dummys aces to ruff two clubs in hand.
Jordi Sabate: Protecting against 4-1 breaks in both red suits. I will use the A and A to ruff two clubs; then if hearts are 4-1, play diamonds.
Jim Munday: Catering to 4-1 hearts and diamonds. I can ruff two clubs in hand using the pointed aces as entries, but first I must break communication between opponents. After ruffing the last club, I will run diamonds, letting East win his trump trick.
Jonathan Mestel: Keeping control if East is 4=4=1=4.
Steve White: To ruff two clubs using the A and A entries without letting East ruff two diamonds.
Lajos Linczmayer: Necessary to cut communication if East has, e.g., K-Q-J-x J-10-9-8 x A-Q-10-4.
Bruce Neill: Cutting enemy communication before ruffing two clubs, in case hearts and diamonds are both 4-1.
Jerry Fink: I have entries ( A and A) necessary to secure two club ruffs, but I dont want East to score two diamond ruffs (one is OK); so I give up a spade now to cut communication. Assuming diamonds are no worse than 4-1, opponents can do nothing to disrupt [my plan].
John Auld: If hearts dont break, I need two club ruffs. I duck a spade now to cut opponents communication later, when East may be ruffing diamonds.
John Lusky: Protecting against four hearts with East and four diamonds with West. Other plays risk being tapped out or allowing two diamonds ruffs.
Roger Morton: Better to lose the spade now for control purposes, in case trumps break badly.
Leif-Erik Stabell: This enables me to ruff two clubs in hand and maintain control, if East is 4=4=1=4 or similar.
David Kenward: Trumps are probably 4-1, but this allows me to ruff two clubs and keep trump control at the end.
Neelotpal Sahai: Even 4=4=1=4 distribution in East (likely for his double) can be handled. Objective is to ruff two clubs in hand without losing trump control [or two diamond ruffs]. If East returns another trump, I will win the Q, A, club ruff, A, club ruff, then play diamonds.
John Reardon: I hope East has something like K-Q-10-x J-10-9-8 x A-J-10-x.
Rob Stevens: Preparing to ruff two clubs, then force Easts presumed four-card heart suit without sustaining two adverse ruffs.
Douglas Dunn: Aim is to ruff two clubs in hand. If trumps are 4-1, I will need East to follow to one diamond.
Julian Wightwick: I want to ruff two clubs in hand, and I must keep the A for transportation and control. If East wins the spade and leads a second trump (West showing out), I win the Q, A, club ruff, A, club ruff, then lead diamonds.
Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: I can overcome a 4-1 trump break by ruffing two clubs and playing diamonds until East ruffs; but I must cut communication first, otherwise East may get two ruffs.
Toby Kenney: This cuts the opposing communication. Next Ill ruff a club, draw a second trump (if needed), and ruff a third club (using A and A as entries) then play diamonds.
David Brooks: This will make 10 tricks if East has at least one diamond with the anticipated four hearts.
Sebastien Louveaux: I need to ruff two clubs; but to protect against 4-1 hearts, I will concede a spade when opponents can do no harm
Paulino Correa: If trumps split 3-2, the contract is easy, but East [probably] has four. I aim to ruff two clubs in hand; but I also must cut enemy communication in spades, else a second diamond may be ruffed later. [Play variations described].
Rainer Herrmann: If East has four trumps, he must have at least one diamond to succeed.
Manuel Paulo: Consider this possible East hand: K-Q-J-x J-10-9-8 x A-J-x-x. My aim is to ruff clubs in hand (not spades in dummy), but ducking a spade will cut the opponents transportation.
Rob Wijman: This will succeed when East has something like K-J-x-x J-10-9-8 x A-Q-x-x. Later I will use my two small hearts to ruff clubs.
Mark Chen: Then win the trump return (probably seeing the 4-1 break), A, club ruff, A, club ruff, and run diamonds.
N. Scott Cardell: This cuts opponents communication while preserving mine to protect against a 4-1 trump break. The best the defense can do is return a trump; I win the Q, A, club ruff, A, and another club ruff. Then I lead high diamonds if trumps were 4-1, or ruff a spade to try for an overtrick if trumps were 3-2.
Carsten Kofoed: This preserves my options of where and when to ruff. East may have J-10-9-8.
Dean Pokorny: If East holds K-Q-x-x J-10-9-8 x A-Q-x-x, I will have to ruff two clubs in hand, [break opponents communication] and prevent dummy from being forced in spades. This does the job.
Junyi Zhu: Planning to ruff two clubs in hand, as East is likely to be 4=4=1=4. Other options fall short, either in communication or trump control.
Bill Powell: This will snip Wests spade entry to prevent East getting two diamond ruffs.
Amiram Millet: And be happy West didnt lead a trump (or diamond) holding Q-10-x x x-x-x-x Q-10-x-x-x.
Brad Theurer: East typically will have four hearts and a singleton diamond, so I must plan to ruff two clubs then play on diamonds to keep control. The early spade duck ensures West cannot get in to give East a second diamond ruff.
Harry Elliott: I expect to lose a club, a spade, and the long trump held by East. By a dummy reversal, I can win three top hearts, two club ruffs, the A, and four diamonds (if East ruffs a diamond, I get a fourth heart). If I ruff clubs immediately, I will have no [entry] back to dummy; so I duck a spade now. [Play described].
Javier Carbonero: Communication! Plan is to ruff two clubs with small trumps, going to dummy with the A and A; then cash the Q (if not played at fourth trick) and lead diamonds. Even if both red suits split 4-1, I am home.
Gerald Cohen: I should be able to ruff two clubs using the A and A entries. By withholding the A, I cant be forced in spades [while breaking opponents communication].
|3 NT South|| A K 9 3|
A K 7 6
5 4 2
|Lead: J||East plays 8|
| Q 6 4|
K Q 6 2
5 4 2
K Q 3
After winning the Q, how do you play?
|E. Win A; lead 4||10||71||11|
|A. Win A; lead 3||8||96||15|
|B. Win A; lead 4||7||69||11|
|D. Win A; lead 3||6||33||5|
|C. Lead the K||4||86||13|
|F. Duck a diamond||3||289||45|
To keep with the fall theme, West tries the ol bicolor defense: Bid em up red; lead em out black. So what gives? Nothing unusual, as its routine not to lead a preempted long suit into the teeth of a shown stopper; much better to lead something else, hoping partner will lead your suit through declarer. This is especially true with no outside entry.
Whats the club situation? From Easts signal with the 8, West apparently led from J-10-9, perhaps with a fourth club; but surely not a doubleton.* East deduced to withhold the ace, not only because a preemptor seldom has K-J-10 outside his long suit but also because he likely has the other suits stopped and can see declarer is far from nine tricks.
*If West has J-10 doubleton, Easts 8 would be a falsecard ( 9 is standard). While possible, I try not to throw curve balls in problem scenarios. What you see is usually what you get. Problems are tough enough without random chicanery. It is also possible that West led from J-9 doubleton (East signaling properly), but I consider this far-fetched; if West were going to speculate, he would prefer the unbid major.
West probably has all the outstanding hearts, but a six-card suit is plausible at the vulnerability. Many experts would prefer 3 to 2 with something like x A-J-10-9-x-x x-x J-10-9-x; and even J-10-9-8-x-x would not be a surprise in my style; er, what style? (Dont bother to question me under oath, as Ill take the Fifth.) Nonetheless, lets assume a mainstream preempt and a typical layout:
|3 NT|| A K 9 3|
A K 7 6
5 4 2
A J 10 9 8 7 4
J 10 9
| J 10 8 7 2|
Q J 9 3
A 8 7 6
| Q 6 4|
K Q 6 2
5 4 2
K Q 3
After the J lead, won by the queen, it is tempting to duck a diamond (Line F), essentially adding an even diamond break to your chances of success. Not wise; odds must be 10:1 against 3-3 diamonds after a club lead. In the likely event East guards diamonds, ducking a diamond will misposition your threat ( 7) in front of East, rendering it useless; while the 5 may become an effective threat behind him.
Therefore, to prepare for a potential squeeze, you must lose tricks only in clubs and hearts. Suppose you cross to the A and lead a club (Line B) to your king as East ducks; then exit with a club. (This is safe, even if East held five clubs.) East does best to win the A and cash his long club. You cant pitch a spade (entry to dummy) or a diamond (threat), so you let go a heart from hand; and a diamond from dummy. East exits safely with the Q to the ace leaving:
|North leads|| K 9 3|
A 10 9 8 7 4
| J 10 8 7|
J 9 3
| Q 6|
K Q 6
Next comes a heart to the king, ace you wish, but West cleverly ducks to prevent you from rectifying the count. Even if you duck the heart, take the diamond return and lead a second heart, West can duck this as well to prevent East from being squeezed. Argh! In the old days, people took their tricks; it wasnt supposed to be this tough.
Evidently, the fourth club squeezed you. If you could lead the K holding K-Q-6-2, West cannot afford to duck, else he would be stripped and endplayed in hearts (an obvious play for declarer). The subtle solution is to cross to dummy with a diamond at trick two (Line E), as this allows you to pitch a spade on the fourth club to reach:
|North leads|| A K 9 3|
A 10 9 8 7 4
| J 10 8 7 2|
| Q 6|
K Q 6 2
When you now lead a heart to the king, West must win his ace (else you will strip spades and endplay him). Suppose he exits with a spade to your queen. The layout is now an open book, so you duck a heart, and the forced heart return squeezes East. Whew!
Second place is a virtual tie among Lines A, B and D, as I couldnt find a realistic layout where one gained over another; but Lines A and B get the edge because you will see Wests spade play.* (If West were void in spades, a 3-3 diamond break becomes a favorite, and you can change tack.) Proper defense beats all these lines unless West has a spade honor; then East can be thrown in with a diamond to lead away from his lone spade honor into dummys tenace. Between Lines A and B, the voting decided.
*Not stated in the problem. but when faced with incomplete information you should assume the ordinary (West follows low). If West showed out or played an honor, I would have to tell you, since it might affect your next play.
Distinctly worse is to lead the K from hand (Line C), as it pays off big time when West made a trash preempt on J-10-9-8-7-4, losing to Easts blank ace. Ouch! Some people consider such bidding to be insane, but experts frequently do it because it works. Otherwise, Line C is effectively the same as Lines A, B and D.
Speaking of big time, the consensus really stumbled here after acing the first two problems. Ducking a diamond is clearly the worst play, as it only works when diamonds are 3-3, quite a long shot on the bidding and lead. Not only does it lose the squeeze chance, but you can no longer endplay East when he has J-x-x-x or 10-x-x-x. Why not? Because a club return (East ducking) establishes a fourth trick for the defense, so you will later be booked.
Ding-Hwa Hsieh: The J lead and 8 signal strongly suggest West has J-10-9. With a doubleton club, West probably would lead his three-card suit, though he could be 2=7=2=2 with East having A-10-8-x-x.
Perry Groot: Spades and diamonds are unlikely to break. A squeeze (threats 3 and 5) on East may then give the ninth trick. Tricks may be lost in hearts, but first I must cut communication in clubs. Only a diamond entry should be used; because East may return a spade, and spade entries are needed for the endplay.
Dale Freeman: I assume both pointed suits are not breaking (East having 4+ cards in each). Hopefully, opponents will get three clubs and one heart (or two clubs and two hearts), then I can squeeze East.
Franco Chiarugi: East should have A-J-10-x-x-x-x and J-10-9. If East ducks the second club, I will win and play another club Important thing is not to touch hearts before eliminating clubs
Imre Csiszar: I assume the lead is from J-10-9, as Easts 8 would be an unlikely falsecard if West held J-10 doubleton. Leading the K [might work] against average opponents but is inferior if East is an expert, as he can discard the A [if necessary] to prevent a squeeze. [Proper play described]. This will squeeze East if West has a singleton spade; or allow East to be endplayed if West has J-x or 10-x
Tim DeLaney: Club plays suggest West has three and East has four. If East ducks the second club, Ill lead a third club. Whether East cashes his fourth club or not, he will be squeezed later when I play hearts.
Joon Pahk: I hope to cut opponents communication, then squeeze East.
Jordi Sabate: I doubt West led from J-9 doubleton (if J-10 East would play the nine, or if J-x East would play the 10); so I will play him for J-10-9 (if J-10-x East would play the nine). If West is 1=7=2=3, I have to play three rounds of clubs immediately, then lose some heart tricks to squeeze East. If East wins his fourth club, I must be able to pitch a small spade from hand; so I have to begin with a diamond to dummy, not a spade.
Jim Munday: Carding suggests West has J-10-9. I need to engineer a squeeze [against East], but once again have to break communication. A premature heart play is fatal, since West will have a club entry. I must cross in diamonds, as I need to keep both low spades in hand. I will win the K and play another; then I can pitch a spade on the fourth club (hoping West began with only one) and rectify the count in hearts. I need to keep four hearts, in case West ducks the first
Jonathan Mestel: Looks as though West has J-10-9. I will clear clubs, then Deep in December our hearts should remember ducking as necessary to squeeze East.
Steve White: Planning to squeeze East in spades and diamonds, which may be a strip squeeze if West has J-x or 10-x
Lajos Linczmayer: West seems to have seven hearts and J-10-9. If he has two diamonds, I must squeeze East in spades and diamonds. If West has one diamond and J-x or 10-x, I can play a throw-in against East. Ill play a third round of clubs; and if East cashes his last club, Ill pitch a spade. If he leads a spade, I will win the queen, and I must guess Wests shape.
Bruce Neill: If West has seven hearts and J-10-9, I aim to squeeze East. Plan is to cut communication in clubs before knocking out the A. I cross in diamonds (not spades) to keep a spade discard available if East cashes the fourth club.
Jerry Fink: A key entry I must protect in the early going is the Q; East cannot effectively attack spades without giving me a squeeze throw-in. If West is 2=7=1=3, I have to hope he has J-x or 10-x.
John Auld: Main plan is to squeeze East after losing a few tricks, but there are lots of variations.
Charles Blair: I think West should be 1=7=2=3. (Famous last words.)
John Lusky: Goal is to squeeze East in spades and diamonds. Playing a heart early allows East to jettison the A to prevent me from rectifying the count, so I need to play clubs before hearts. (Many of the lines work if West has a spade honor, so East can be strip-squeezed.) Line E is better than Line B, because I will need to pitch a spade from hand on the fourth club, which I could not afford if I had led a spade already. If I pitch a heart, West can duck the first heart to stop me from rectifying the count; but if I keep all my hearts, he cant do this without surrendering a second heart trick
Leif-Erik Stabell: I hope East has a hand like J-10-x-x-x Q-10-9-x A-8-x-x. Line B doesnt quite work, since I will have to discard a small spade on the fourth club to be able to squeeze East.
David Kenward: Starting my Vienna coup at trick two.
Douglas Dunn: I aim to squeeze East in spades and diamonds, but its not easy to rectify the count
Julian Wightwick: If I believe the 8, West probably has J-10-9 or J-10-9-x. I plan to squeeze East in spades and diamonds using the 5 threat. The early club play is to break communication between the defenders; if East ducks, Ill lead another club. Later, I will cross to the K and lead hearts appropriately to rectify the count.
Thibault Wolf: Idea is to develop a spade-diamond squeeze against East.
David Brooks: I need to know how many clubs I will lose before conceding hearts to West.
Manuel Paulo: Consider this West hand: x A-J-10-9-8-7-4 x-x J-10-9. According to opponents play, I can either endplay West in hearts, or squeeze East in the pointed suits.
Mark Chen: Playing West for x A-J-10-9-x-x-x x-x J-10-9. I need to give East two clubs, and later make West win two hearts; then East will be squeezed in spades and diamonds. If West does not take his A on the first heart, he can be stripped of exit cards and thrown in with a heart
Carsten Kofoed: After I disrupt opponents connection, West can choose my road to nine tricks by a squeeze or an endplay. If East cashes the 13th club, I will discard a spade
Dean Pokorny: Ill try to [squeeze] or endplay East for my ninth trick, which may require some guesswork.
Amiram Millet: If West had led a spade or diamond with x A-J-10-x-x-x-x J-x J-10-9, I go down.
If a holding looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Assume a setup, and lead something else!
|4 South|| A 6 4 3|
A 7 5 2
A K Q 2
|Lead: Q||East plays 2|
| K 7 5|
A 8 6 3 2
6 4 3
Your bids were inspired. How about your play?
|D. Win A; A-K; lead 2||10||153||24|
|A. Win A; lead 2||7||161||25|
|C. Win A; A; ruff diamond; lead 2||6||122||19|
|E. Win K; A; ruff diamond||5||62||10|
|F. Win K; A-K; lead 2||4||111||17|
|B. Win A; A; ruff diamond; win K||2||35||5|
No doubt many will disprove of the bidding, so pretend you were hit on the head by a falling acorn (better than a coconut where I live now) as you were enjoying the fall scenery. Seriously, I like the 1 bid, as your ruffing value in hearts may greatly benefit suit play (vs. notrump), and its easy to picture a singleton diamond opposite. Indeed, this reasoning is justified, as 3 NT requires both black suits to split 3-3; while 4 might come home with just one split.
Well, there you are; and West seems aware of your slippery tactics, as he attacks full throttle with a trump. Your best chance is to combine your seven top tricks with three ruffs (two diamonds in dummy, one heart in hand), which is easy with 3-3 clubs and 4-3 splits in each red suit. For instance, if West is 3=3=4=3, all you have to do is give up a heart; then a second trump lead wont stop you from taking 10 tricks.
Even in the good old days, things werent that easy. You can reminisce all you want as the leaves change color, but the chance of a 3-3 break is not going to change as well. Consider a more likely layout with clubs 4-2:
|4 || A 6 4 3|
A 7 5 2
A K Q 2
| Q J 10|
K Q 9 3
K J 9 4
| 9 8 2|
J 10 4
Q 7 5
10 9 8 5
| K 7 5|
A 8 6 3 2
6 4 3
Suppose you follow the straightforward Line A: Win the A and duck a heart. Whoever wins returns a trump, taken by the king; then you can ruff two diamonds and a heart. Alas, only two clubs will cash, so youre down one. After winning the second trump, it wouldnt help to lead clubs before crossruffing; even if you win A-K, return to hand with a diamond (or a heart ruff) and lead a club, West will discard, then you lack the entries to ruff two diamonds.
In order to win a third club and crossruff, you must cash A-K before ducking a heart (Line D). Assume West leads a second trump to your king, and you next lead a club. If West pitches, you will win the Q and crossruff (diamonds first). If West ruffs instead, he ruffs a loser, giving you the same tricks later. Line D is a standout, as it works against any layout where success is possible.*
*Four spades makes when West is 2=4=4=3, 3=3=4=3, 3=4=4=2, 4=3=3=3 or 3=4=3=3. In the last two cases, note that West indeed would open 1 , as the default system is to bid the better minor with 3-3.
As far as making 4 , Lines A, C, E and F are equivalent, needing clubs 3-3 and red suits 4-3; but the case of undertricks dictates the ranking. Second place goes to Line A, as conceding a heart early wont go down more than one barring fluke shapes. Lines C and E fail by two tricks when West has five diamonds (tie broken by voting); and Line F fares even worse, also going down two when West has four spades.
Worst of all is Line B, which only works when both black suits are 3-3 (red suits 4-3) but in a unique way: After winning A-K, you cant afford to give up a heart; but four rounds of clubs allows a heart pitch, and whoever ruffs cannot draw your last trump, so you get a heart ruff after all. Kind of like double fives in craps 10 the hard way.
Perry Groot: Somehow, clubs need to bring in three tricks. Leading the third round from hand caters for a doubleton with West.
Dale Freeman: I think spades must be 3-3, and clubs 3-3 or a doubleton with West. [When I reach my hand], I will lead a club toward dummy. Hopefully, I will score two high spades, three ruffs, three clubs and two red aces.
Franco Chiarugi: To have any hope, I have to find either spades or clubs 3-3; thus, West can have four spades with three clubs, or three spades with 2-3 clubs. Line D maintains all possibilities and preserves necessary entries In all cases, I will win A-K, two diamond ruffs, one heart ruff, A-K-Q and the A.
Imre Csiszar: Almost anything works if West is 3=3=4=3. This also works when West is 3=4=4=2, enabling me to win seven high cards and three ruffs.
Tim DeLaney: The only way to make 10 tricks is to ruff a heart and [two diamonds]. I cash two clubs to guard against 3=4=4=2 shape in West; when in hand with the K, I lead a third club, and West cannot gain by ruffing air.
Joon Pahk: Im hoping to elope with five trump tricks and five side-suit tops. Cashing two clubs now will clear the decks, so I can lead toward the Q next time in hand.
Jordi Sabate: I need spades to break 3-3, and there will be no problem if clubs also break 3-3; but I can protect myself against a doubleton club in West with Line D, then playing a club from hand when winning the K.
Jim Munday: My only chance is to take [my top tricks] and three ruffs (conceivable with both red suits 4-3). Initially, it appears I need clubs 3-3; but if West has a doubleton, I can arrange to lead the third club from hand, leaving him without recourse. I must win the first trick in dummy to preserve entries to my hand
Jonathan Mestel: This will sometimes gain when West has a doubleton club.
Steve White: Planning to score two high spades, two red aces, two diamond ruffs, one heart ruff and three clubs requiring clubs 3-3 or West to be 3=4=4=2.
Lajos Linczmayer: I plan to win seven top tricks and three ruffing tricks, succeeding if West is 2=4=4=3, 3=3=4=3 or 3=4=4=2. In the last case I need to protect the Q.
Bruce Neill: Easy!? Seven top tricks and three ruffs. Before crossruffing, I must lead the third club from hand, in case West is 3=4=4=2.
Jerry Fink: I have just enough entries if I time them accurately to come to 10 tricks if West is 3=4=4=2 (likely). When in hand with the K, I must be prepared to finesse dummys Q right then. Later I will use the A and heart ruff to score two diamond ruffs in dummy.
John Auld: If clubs dont break 3-3, I can still succeed if West is 3=4=4=2.
Charles Blair: When you can elope, there is hope. Geza Ottlik.
John Lusky: Only this line works against 3=4=4=2 and 3=3=4=3 shape with West. I will win a spade return and lead a club.
Roger Morton: Tough call! Ill win the trump return and play a third club before crossruffing, hoping clubs are 3-3 or West is short.
Leif-Erik Stabell: I hope to make seven top tricks and three ruffs, e.g., when West has Q-J-10 K-Q-x-x K-Q-x-x x-x.
David Kenward: Ill win the next trump, and lead toward the Q. If it wins (or West ruffs with his last trump), I can then ruff two diamonds and a heart for 10 tricks.
Neelotpal Sahai: Play requires luck (suits to break), not inspiration.
Good breaks are always an inspiration.
Bad breaks lead to perspiration.
John Reardon: I hope West is 3=4=4=2.
Rob Stevens: If spades are 3-3, I can elope with five trump tricks. To avoid a club winner being ruffed, I must lead the third round toward dummy, so West can only ruff air.
Douglas Dunn: Looks like clubs have to break 3-3, but leading the third club toward dummy allows the extra chance that West has three spades and two clubs. (If West ruffs, East will have to follow to the Q later.)
Julian Wightwick: If a second trump is led, I will win and lead up to the Q, then take my red-suit ruffs. If West can ruff the third club, I hope he has only three trumps so he cannot lead another one; the Q will cash later.
Toby Kenney: My main hope is a 3-3 club break; then with reasonable splits in the red suits, I can make [three ruffs]. This line also succeeds when West is 3=4=4=2.
Thibault Wolf: To be able to lead the third round of clubs from hand, in case West has a doubleton.
Gabor Lippner: Playing for either 3-3 clubs (when there is not much problem), or West having two clubs and at most three trumps. In the latter case, I must lead the third club from hand
Sebastien Louveaux: Opponents will play back a trump, then I play a club. This works when West has a doubleton club (spades 3-3); either the Q scores immediately, or West will be out of trumps if he ruffs (and the Q scores later). Either way, I will score all my little trumps as well.
Thijs Veugen: This wins when West is 4=3=3=3, 3=3=4=3 or 3=4=4=2.
Paulino Correa: Actually I need a small miracle, not inspiration, to make three ruffs besides my seven top cards. If West is 3=3=4=3, Ill [make] easily; but if he has a more probably distribution, say, Q-J-10 Q-J-x-x K-Q-J-x x-x, I can still succeed by protecting the Q from a ruff. [Play described].
Rainer Herrmann: Best chance seems to be to play West for 3=3=4=3, 2=4=4=3 or 3=4=4=2, the last requiring Line D.
Manuel Paulo: Consider this possible West hand: Q-J-10 K-J-x-x K-Q-x-x x-x. Whether or not West ruffs the third club, I will win the Q and crossruff for 10 tricks.
N. Scott Cardell: With 3-3 in the minors, West would open his stronger minor (1 ), so he could be 4=3=3=3, 3=4=3=3 or 3=3=4=3. In each case I can score two high trumps, three ruffs and five side-suit tops with any play but Line B. Line D is best, as it also succeeds when West is 3=4=4=2. [Play described]. If West is 4=3=4=2 (a bit less likely than 3=4=4=2), I am down two
Carsten Kofoed: Keeps control and households with my entrances.
Not sure how to interpret that, but it reminds me of:
In my Fathers house are many mansions. John 14:2
Dean Pokorny: Supposing West has Q-J-10 K-J-x-x K-J-x-x J-x, my goal is to play the third club from hand. Therefore, I have to win in dummy and cash A-K before ducking a heart. I win the trump return and play a club.
Junyi Zhu: This caters for West having a doubleton club (3=4=4=2) [After a third club toward dummy], I can win three small trumps by ruffing red suits.
Amiram Millet: If West has Q-J-10 K-J-x-x K-J-x-x J-x, only an original diamond lead would sink the contract.
|6 South|| A 9 8 5 2|
K 10 5
9 7 5
|Lead: K||East plays 3|
A 10 6 3
A 8 6
A K 8 6 4
Aces and kings you have. Sensibility? Maybe not. After winning the A, how do you play?
|A. Ruff spade; win K; ruff spade||10||188||29|
|C. Ruff spade; win A; K; ruff spade||9||95||15|
|E. Win K; A; ruff heart||8||125||19|
|B. Ruff spade; win K; A; ruff heart||5||106||16|
|D. Ruff spade; win A; K; A; ruff heart||3||65||10|
|F. Win A; K; A; ruff heart||2||65||10|
Somebody once said that bridge is a game of aces and kings, and apparently youre out to prove it. After your borderline reverse, partners preference to 3 was game-forcing (popular expert treatment), after which he seems to have fallen in love with his hand. Nothing like optimism! Oh well; 6 has a play, unlike some slams Ive been in.
Assuming a 3-2 trump break, you have nine top tricks. Two additional tricks may come from heart ruffs in dummy, as an overruff (or fore-ruff) wont matter by the hand with three trumps. Thats still only 11 tricks barring a miracle such as Q-J-x*; so you may need to establish dummys long spade, which requires a 4-3 break. Alas, this dictates three spade ruffs, so you will tap yourself out of control.
*If the 10 establishes with one ruff, you can pitch a diamond on the good 10, then ruff a diamond in dummy for your 12th trick provided the three-trump hand held Q-J-x.
But wait! If you can ruff three spades in hand, that will give you an extra trump trick (five when you expected four). If you could combine this with two heart ruffs in dummy, you have 12 tricks. To elope with five ruffs will require favorable distribution but thats usually the case when you bid like a maniac. Consider this friendly layout:
|6 || A 9 8 5 2|
K 10 5
9 7 5
| K Q 10 6|
J 7 5
Q 3 2
Q 10 2
| J 4 3|
Q 9 8 4
J 9 7 4
A 10 6 3
A 8 6
A K 8 6 4
After the K lead, suppose you win the ace, ruff a spade, cross over to the K, and ruff another spade (Line A). Logical continuation is the A and a heart ruff to reach this position:
|North leads|| 9 8|
K 10 5
Q 3 2
Q 10 2
J 9 7 4
A 8 6
A K 8
Alas, a dead end. If you lead another spade, you get fatally uppercut by the J. If you come to hand with a trump or diamond to lead a heart, West can ruff with the 10 and deliver the same uppercut. To succeed, you had to begin differently with three rounds of hearts, ruffing in dummy (Line E), then a spade ruff in hand leaves this position:
|South leads|| 9 8 5|
K 10 5
| Q 10|
Q 3 2
Q 10 2
J 9 7 4
A 8 6
A K 8 6
When you lead your last heart, West has no answer. If he ruffs, you will pitch a diamond then ruff your losing diamond in dummy. If he pitches a diamond, you will ruff the heart, ruff a spade, cash A-K, A-K, and ruff a spade for your 12th trick. If he pitches a spade, of course, dummys suit sets up to make it easy.
One friendly deal is hardly conclusive. Suppose clubs are 3-2 the opposite way and West is 4=4=3=2. Now the success or failure of Lines A and E is reversed. Endings 1 and 2 become, respectively:
|North leads|| 9 8|
K 10 5
Q 3 2
J 9 7 4
J 10 3
A 8 6
A K 8
When you lead a spade, East has no answer. Ruffing makes it easy (pitch a red card). If East pitches a diamond, ruff with the 8, and ruff your heart in dummy; whatever East does, he gets only one trump trick. Line A now works.
|South leads|| 9 8 5|
K 10 5
| Q 10|
Q 3 2
J 9 7 4
J 10 3
A 8 6
A K 8 6
When you lead your last heart and West follows, the situation is hopeless. In fact, East can overruff and return any card in his hand (except the J). Line E now fails.
So far we have a photo, as the chance of West being 4=3=3=3 is exactly the same as 4=4=3=2. As usual in close cases that defy calculation, I ran a 1000-deal simulation to compare the six lines. Alas, with many possible distributions and various magic holdings in hearts, diamonds and clubs, this was difficult. Finding the winner at double-dummy proves nothing, so I had to examine many deals to determine which successes followed from logical play.
About the time my mind started changing colors like the autumn leaves, it became apparent that Line A was best. Of course, you say; all I had to do was look at the voting to see that. Sure; may I refer you to Problem 3? Second place goes to Line C, which is almost as good; cashing the A loses to Line A when West is 3=3=4=3 with H-3-2 (East has two honors doubleton).
Line E must settle for a close third, as it loses to Line A in the above case, as well as a few rare others. Further, Line E goes down two more often than Lines A and C. Even assuming the opposing team will be in game and never slam, down two loses 11 IMPs; down one, only 10. Indeed, my partners consider themselves fortunate when I lose only 10 IMPs.
A distant fourth goes to ruffing a spade and leading three rounds of hearts (Line B). This might seem like a compromise between Lines A and E, but in fact it loses the advantage of either in common layouts. For instance, if West is 4=4=3=2, it requires that he has Q-J-x for an eventual squeeze. Also, if West is 4=3=3=3, he must have H-3-2 to avert a damaging uppercut.
Line D is similar to the hybrid Line B, but cashing the A early reduces chances further. For instance, if a defender has Q-J-x and three trumps, he can ruff the good 10 and return a trump to prevent a diamond ruff in dummy.
Worst of all is Line F. This seems only a slight variation from Line E, but cashing the A early loses its main advantage. Note in Ending 2 that if West ruffs high in front of dummy, he cannot prevent you from ruffing a diamond unless you helped his cause by cashing a trump yourself.
This problem is also reminiscent of old times, as the diagrammed deal occurred in the 1983 Vanderbilt. Bill Root was South and (wisely) did not consider his hand worth a reverse and rebid 2 *, then raised my 2 NT to 3 NT. With nine easy tricks, it seemed like a nothing deal at the time. Even if 6 could be made, its surely unbiddable and despite this problem scenario, it will be interred that way.
*If asked about this decision, I can still hear Bills favorite reply, I always like to have extras playing with Richard.
Ding-Hwa Hsieh: If West is 4=3=3=3, Line E works; if he is 4=4=3=2, Lines A and C work. A tiebreaker: If West has K-Q-J-x x-x-x-x J-x Q-10-x, Line E fails, but Lines A and C work.* Comparing Lines A and C: If West has a singleton club honor, Line C can direct declarer to winning play after dropping the honor; however, if East is 3=2=5=3 with one club honor, Line A is better.
*True, in a sense, but it shows the labyrinthian nature of this problem. To succeed against the above hand with Line A or C, declarer must play differently than required when West is 4=4=3=2. Hence, theres no gain without losing back to the main case. Legitimate tiebreakers were hard to find. RP
Perry Groot: This wins, e.g., if East is 3=3=4=3; but so would Line C.
Dale Freeman: Continuing with the A, heart ruff, spade ruff, and try to ruff the fourth heart. If East is 3=3=4=3, or if West is 3=3=4=3 with only one club honor, I think all goes well. Cashing the A (as in Line C) allows West in the second case to overruff and lead a trump to stop the second heart ruff.
Franco Chiarugi: I have to play for 3-2 trumps, with three in the hand with three spades (East from the first play) and three hearts; thus, East 3=3=4=3. Any ruff by East on the fourth spade allows me to discard my last heart; then eliminate trumps and discard my diamond loser on the fifth spade. If East discards on the fourth spade, I then ruff my last heart
Imre Csiszar: This wins if East is 3=3=4=3, and some other unlikely cases a meager chance for slam, but I see nothing better.
Tim DeLaney: This wins more often than other lines (Line C is almost as good) but fails if West has K-Q-J-x J-x-x Q-x-x J-3-2, or similar [unless] I could read the position after trick six. Line E works [anytime] West is 4=3=3=3
Joon Pahk: Looks like Im going to need to score a bunch of my low trumps, so Ill start by ruffing some spades.
Jordi Sabate: Maybe West chose to lead spades with K-Q-J alone, but its dangerous to lead dummys suit without length. If he has five or more spades, I dont think theres a winning line, so Ill play him for four (possibly K-Q-J-x). I also need other suits to break friendly. This works when West is 4=4=3=2, no matter what honors he holds.
Jim Munday: A complex layout. A number of lines will succeed, depending on opponents distribution. Trick one suggests West has four spades. I need to elope with my small trumps, while using dummys long spade as a potential threat. I will next play the A and ruff a heart, and continuation will depend on who I think has the fourth heart (I will play for split honors). This succeeds if West is 4=4=3=2, and sometimes against 4=3=5=1 and 4=3=3=3. Cashing an early round of trumps is necessary against 4=3=5=1 [with club honor] but fatal against 4=3=3=3
Steve White: I need to find one opponent 3=3=4=3, so an overruff [or fore-ruff] costs his natural trump trick. If East ruffs the fourth spade in front of me, I will pitch my last heart. If West overruffs the fourth spade, I am in trouble (unless he has H-3-2); but West is more likely to have the long spade.
Toby Kenney: This works if East is 3=3=4=3.
Gabor Lippner: I want to establish the fifth spade, so I need all of dummys entries.
Rob Wijman: An elopement is possible if spades and hearts break 4-3
Mark Chen: I may need West to be 4=3=3=3 with Q-J-10, or East to err by not ruffing the fourth spade high.
Jacques Cloutier: I think I need to [ruff] spades to come to 12 tricks; as even if I ruff both hearts, I still have a club and diamond loser. [I will continue] with the A, heart ruff, and a fourth spade
Bill Daly: I think I have to hope West has exactly four spades. In any case, playing to ruff hearts early will leave me with a trick to lose in each minor.
J.J. Gass: Only a better declarer than I would have had the courage to reverse. A maxim for intermediate players like me: When faced with a choice between overbidding and underbidding, consider who is more likely to screw up the play you or the possibly even more pathetic defenders.
Bineet Jha: Cashing the A before ruffing hearts [might] jeopardize the only chance to make the contract, as West with three trumps and [shorter] hearts could ruff high and return a trump.
Nick Kravitz: A problem in trump elopement and timing. I would try to ruff [three] spades; but if overruffed, retain the option to ruff two hearts. Therefore, I wont touch clubs yet, in case the overruffer returns a trump.
Kevin Lane: Hoping, reasonably, for 4-3 spades and 3-2 clubs. Ill attempt to set up the fifth spade, but of course its not that easy. West may be 4-3 in the majors with H-3-2, in which case I can elope with my low trumps; or I may need a red-suit squeeze.
Javier Carbonero: Another miracle a bigger one. I need to win a spade (besides the ace) or a second heart ruff; so Ill ruff spades in hand, then hearts, hoping a ruff by the defense will leave the remaining trumps 2-2.
Jonathan Mestel: If West has a stiff club honor, I can still make if East has four hearts. Otherwise, I play normally.
David Brooks: Hopefully, the fourth spade will squeeze East in three suits.
John S. Robson: The key seems to be to get my diamond and club losers played together. How best to do this? Ill play West for four spades, and East for three clubs. I still need some luck!
Harry Elliott: Besides our aces and kings, the 10 and 10 improve chances. I hope West has four spades, Q-J-x and three clubs. I will [draw a second trump and ruff a heart] then ruff another spade in hand. When I lead a diamond toward dummy, West must split his honors; then my 12th trick will be the fifth spade, or an endplay if West ruffs.
Lajos Linczmayer: If West is 4=3=3=3, I can win seven top tricks and five ruffs. If West ruffs high on the fourth heart, I pitch a diamond.
Bruce Neill: Major miracle needed. I hope West is 4=3=3=3, [which allows] no effective defense when I try to ruff the fourth heart. A spade discard lets me establish spades; a diamond lets me elope with five ruffs; and a ruff lets me throw a diamond and later ruff a diamond.
Jerry Fink: Idea is to collect two ruffs in dummy, and three ruffs in hand, hoping West is 4=3=3=3. [Play described].
John Auld: If West is 4=3=3=3, he cant profitably ruff the fourth heart. With care, I can scramble five ruffs
Charles Blair: If West is 4=3=3=3, he will sense himself being squeezed in spades Jane Austen and Geza Ottlik in one problem.
John Lusky: This works against West hands like K-Q-J-x J-x-x Q-x-x J-10-x. and also against K-Q-J-x x-x-x-x Q-x-x J-x. Line A seems next best, as it works against hands like K-Q-J-x J-x-x-x Q-x-x J-x
Leif-Erik Stabell: Lines A and C work when West is 4=4=3=2; and [Line A] against 3=3=4=3 with only one club honor. This works when West is 4=3=3=3; or against 5=3=3=2 with zero or two clubs honors, which looks slightly better
David Kenward: I will continue with a spade ruff and the last heart, playing for West to be 4=3=3=3. If West ruffs high, I can eventually ruff a diamond in dummy; otherwise, I can elope with all my trumps in hand. If West is 4=4=3=2 (same number of hands as 4=3=3=3), Lines A and C make; but on some of those hands, West would have a first-round double.
Neelotpal Sahai: Again I need favorable breaks (four spades with West) to be able to ruff in both the hands; and I need the opponent with three clubs to have shorter hearts. Lines A and C succeed if West is 4=4=3=2, but only this succeeds if West is 4=3=3=3. Ill select Line E because its unique.
John Reardon: I need a little luck, but this gives me a fair chance to avoid a trump promotion.
Rob Stevens: I need clubs 3-2, with East holding the longer hearts. If I ruff two spades before the fourth heart, West with 4=3=3=3 and H-H-x (6 of 10 cases) will be able to ruff ahead of dummy and lead his last spade for an uppercut.
Paulino Correa: I need another small miracle. Consider West with K-Q-J-10 J-x-x J-x-x Q-J-2 nothing preposterous, reasonably acceptable. Attempting a second heart ruff will either succeed or force a trump honor from West.
Rainer Herrmann: Should I play West for 4=3=3=3 or 4=4=3=2 distribution? Playing for 4=3=3=3 gives the additional chance [against 4=4=3=2 or 3=4=4=2] that East has Q-J-x.
Manuel Paulo: Consider this possible West hand: K-Q-J-x x-x-x x-x-x Q-10-x. At trick five, I ruff a spade then lead the 10. [Play described].
David Grainger: Maybe West will be 4=3=3=3, so I can ruff both hearts and score small trumps in hand by ruffing spades.
Bill Powell: Then a spade ruff and another heart, making when West is 4=3=3=3.
Brad Theurer: Besides the remote chances that West is 3=4=3=3 with Q-J-10, or East 4=3=3=3 with Q-J-10, it seems best to play West for 4=3=3=3 where honors and spots are irrelevant. I ruff hearts early to avoid an uppercut in spades.
|6 South|| Q J 2|
A J 10 9 7
A J 10 4
|Lead: 7||East plays 3|
| A K 10 9 8|
K 7 4
Q 5 2
What a frustrating lead! After winning the 10, how do you play?
|C. Win A; lead J||10||170||26|
|A. Finesse the J||8||120||19|
|E. Run the Q||6||99||15|
|F. Finesse the J||5||94||15|
|B. Win A; A; ruff diamond||4||99||15|
|D. Win A; lead 4||3||62||10|
A good old-fashioned auction, with regular Blackwood, has led to an excellent slam. Unfortunately, the three-suited description of dummy indicated a trump lead, which is annoying. After a diamond lead, you would have nearly a sure-trick line: Cross to the 10, ruff a diamond, overtake dummys last spade, draw trumps and play clubs. Now its not so easy. So what else is new; did you really expect to find Christmas in September?
Trying to ruff your diamond directly (Line B) is not a good idea, as it leaves you stranded in dummy with at least one trump out. At this point you must guess who has the K: If West, cash the A and exit with a heart, eventually finessing clubs; if East, lead a low club to the queen. If you guess wrong, youre down (barring a miracle), so its not much better than even money. Certainly, you can improve on that.
What about establishing hearts with two finesses (Line A)? This looks promising after Wests trump lead, which is often based on strength in dummys long suit; but its awkward. Suppose the first heart finesse loses and a trump comes back, taken in hand; then a second finesse wins. All is fine if hearts are 3-3; but if West has K-x-x-x or Q-x-x-x, you cant establish hearts and ruff your diamond, so youll need the club finesse as well. Consider such a layout:
|6 || Q J 2|
A J 10 9 7
A J 10 4
| 7 6 5|
K 6 4 2
Q 10 6 3
| 4 3|
J 9 8 5 2
K 9 6 3
| A K 10 9 8|
K 7 4
Q 5 2
What about taking the club finesse early? Suppose you lead a club to the jack at trick two, losing to the king, and East returns his last trump. Argh! If you unblock the A, cross to the Q and ruff a diamond, youre stranded in dummy once again. Back to the drawing board.
If only you could unblock the A first and then take the club finesse. Alas, it cant be done without returning to hand with a trump; but that removes a necessary entry. When the club finesse loses, East can simply return a club (or anything but a diamond), and you lack communication to ruff a diamond. So much for reminiscing; this is getting irritating.
With the last attempt being, oh, so close, a light may be shining through the leaves. Forget the club finesse. Proper play is to cross to the A and lead the J (Line C). If East takes the king, the play flows easily: Win the trump return in hand, ruff a diamond, back to the Q, draw trumps and claim. The only risk is a singleton or void in clubs, which is less likely than normal odds, considering that West would have led a singleton club if he had one.
But wait! What if East ducks the K? Like the autumn leaves or an agitated chameleon, you can change colors too. Cross to your hand in trumps and lead a heart to the jack. As the cards lie, Easts only exit is a diamond*, won by the king (pitching a club). Next lead a heart to the ace (better than finessing), ruff a heart, ruff a diamond, ruff a heart, draw the last trump, and dummy wins the last two tricks with the A and good heart.
*If East had another trump and returned it, best play would be to win in hand and finesse hearts again. If it works, the rest is easy.
Determining the exact chance of Line C is difficult, as it depends on the defense. If the J is always taken, its over 90 percent. In practice, it seems West would usually win the K (for all he knows, East could have the queen); and East would usually duck, hoping West has the queen. Chances are excellent even when the J holds, so Id estimate about 85 percent overall.
Second place goes to the immediate heart finesse (Line A), presumably intending to finesse again. This has many winning parlays: K-Q onside, honor-doubleton or tripleton onside, or honor-fourth onside with the K. Even considering that West rates to have a heart honor from his lead, failure in the diagram (arguably the most common distribution) makes this clearly inferior to Line C.
Other plays essentially need to guess the location of the K, with slim extra chances. Finessing clubs immediately (Line E or F) needs the K with West; winning the A and leading the 4 (Line D) needs the K with East; and ruffing a diamond as soon as possible (Line B) allows you to play either opponent for the K as described, but you must decide which. Among them, theres not much difference.
Considering the trump lead, West is more likely to have the K, so the edge for also-rans goes to the immediate club finesse. Further, West will not have a singleton club (not led), so a losing club finesse will not be immediately fatal (you might find 4+ clubs in the hand with three trumps); whereas, leading a club to the queen fails immediately if East has a singleton. As to leading the Q or low to the J, I couldnt find a difference, so third place goes to Line E per the voting, and fourth to Line F.
Fifth place is another close call. An early diamond ruff (Line B) allows you to play West for the K with virtually no risk of a ruff, but there is no extra chance. Crossing to the A and leading a low club (Line D) hopes East has the K; but if West has it, there is a slim extra chance. Rather than spend time deciding between two poor plays, the voting order will do fine.
Voting on Problems 5 and 6 has a curious similarity, which is rare (though Ive never kept track). Not only did the consensus ace both problems, but each option drew double-digit percent. I guess this means we both win you, for finding the best play; and me, for posing good alternatives. Then again, some of these voters also put Gee Dubya in office, so we all lose. Give me Eisenhower!
Ding-Hwa Hsieh: If the J wins, I will [return to hand] in trumps and try to set up hearts
Perry Groot: If an opponent wins the K, I have two entries to ruff a diamond [and draw trumps].
Dale Freeman: If an opponent takes this trick, I will make (barring a club ruff). If not, Ill play a trump to hand and a heart to the jack. East probably in, cannot lead a club or a heart and may not have a trump.
Franco Chiarugi: If West or East wins the K, everything will be easy, so best defense is to duck. Then I will play a spade to the ace and finesse the J.
Imre Csiszar: This will almost surely win against average opponents, and also looks best against experts who will know to duck. If the J holds, I can double-finesse hearts; and with a club trick in the bag, chances are much better than with Line A.
Tim DeLaney: If this loses to the K, I will have entries to ruff a diamond, provided clubs are 4-2 or 3-3. If the J wins, I will pull trumps and finesse the J.
Joon Pahk: It will be tough for the opponent with the K to duck this; and he cant beat me by winning unless clubs are 5-1. If the J wins, I will pull trumps and play on hearts for three tricks with good chances.
Jordi Sabate: If the J loses to the king, I will succeed if clubs are no worse than 4-2. If it wins, Im almost sure the defender with the K will think for a while. If East thinks and ducks, I will overtake with the Q and play a heart to the J, winning if hearts are no worse than 4-2 (and trumps 3-2). If West thinks and ducks, I will play the J (same result).
And if neither opponent thinks, make them
both submit to a polygraph test.
Jim Munday: After this trump lead, I will try to remember to keep West off lead in the future. Lines E and F are doomed when the K is offside; and Line D will fail with the K onside. Line A will succeed when hearts can be brought in for four tricks; or if the K is onside when hearts dont come in but the second heart finesse wins. This is better, requiring only three heart tricks when the J holds (else I have an easy time barring a 5-1 club split); then I would play a spade to hand and finesse the J.
Jonathan Mestel: If this is ducked, I will surely know by whom and have many chances; whereas, if the Q loses as in Line D, Im sunk.
Lajos Linczmayer: I suppose trumps are 3-2, or West has four. If the K is taken (I think West will), I make the contract unless clubs are 5-1. If the J holds, I have 10 winners, and chances are improved. I play a trump to hand and finesse the J. If East has, e.g., 4-3 Q-x Q-10-x-x-x K-x-x-x, I will be able to ruff a diamond and establish hearts.
Bruce Neill: If an opponent takes the K, Im looking good. If both opponents duck smoothly, Im out of my class. :)
Jerry Fink: A close calculation. This maintains all the favorable heart-suit options, provided clubs break 3-3 or 4-2 (or a singleton K with one or two spades) about 85 percent of the time. The gain occurs when West has K-x-x-x or Q-x-x-x, and East has the K (or West has K-x-x-x-x or Q-x-x-x-x and the K).
Charles Blair: If the J wins, I will overtake a spade and finesse in hearts.
John Lusky: If an opponent grabs the K, I will make against normal splits by ruffing a diamond in dummy. If the J holds, I will play a spade to hand and play hearts, with improved chances over Line A because I need [one less] heart trick
Roger Morton: This ensures 12 tricks if the K is taken and clubs behave. If the J holds, Ill guess who was the astute defender and think again.
John Reardon: Combining chances. If the J holds, I will cross with a spade and take a heart finesse.
Rob Stevens: Unless clubs are 5-1 or 6-0, the opponent with the K will have to duck. Then I will just draw trumps and take my best shot in hearts by taking two finesses.
Douglas Dunn: If the J holds, I will pull trumps and rely on split honors in hearts to establish two discards. If the J loses to the king, I have an entry back to hand after ruffing a diamond.
Julian Wightwick: If opponents manage to duck the J smoothly, I will assume the K is offside. Then I will come back to hand with a trump and try for three heart tricks.
Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: If the J is taken, I have communication to ruff a diamond, draw trumps and discard a heart on the fourth club (as long as clubs are no worse than 4-2). If East or West is brilliant enough to duck (West even smoothly), I will continue with a low heart.
Toby Kenney: If this is ducked, Ill play ace and another heart; and if spades break, Ill try to ruff the hearts good (with additional squeeze or finesse chances if this doesnt work).
Gabor Lippner: If the J loses, I will make whenever clubs are no worse than 4-2. If it holds, I will lead a trump to hand and finesse the J; then I can finesse hearts again, and even ruff a heart if they dont break.
Alon Amsel: If the K is taken, I can ruff a diamond and throw a heart on the last club. If the J holds, Ill switch to hearts.
Thijs Veugen: If the K is taken, I have communication to ruff a diamond and draw trumps. If not, I simply set up the heart suit: A, finesse J, etc.
Paulino Correa: If the defense wins the K, the contract is made (barring a singleton club). If the J holds, I lead the J, win the likely spade return, and set up the long heart
Mark Chen: I hope to make the Q an entry, so I can ruff the diamond. If the J wins, I will get to hand with a trump and finesse hearts.
N. Scott Cardell: Only this and Line A seem to offer much better than even chances. If the J wins, then: A, heart finesse, win the trump return in hand, draw the last trump if necessary, finesse the 10, ruff a heart and claim. If East has x-x K-Q-x-x J-x-x K-x-x-x, he will have to return a diamond on winning the first heart, then: K, A, heart ruff, diamond ruff, heart ruff, draw the last trump and claim.
Okan Ozcan: If someone takes the J, I am home (unless clubs are 5-1). If the J wins, I will overtake a spade and play a heart to the jack.
Junyi Zhu: This forces an opponent to duck one round, then I switch to hearts.
Bill Powell: Doubtless the J will hold, foiling my attempt to create an entry to hand. In that case, I will draw trumps and hope for hearts to behave reasonably.
Comments are selected from those scoring 43 or higher (top 202) or in the overall Top 100 prior to this contest. On each problem I only used comments that support the winning play, except for close runner-up views on Problem 5. This may be considered biased, but I feel its the best way to ensure solid content and avoid potential embarrassment in publishing comments that are off base. On this basis, I included about 85 percent of the eligible comments. If you supplied comments not used, I thank you for the input.
Use of a comment does not necessarily mean I agree with it, but generally they are all worthy. Comments are quoted exactly except for corrections in spelling and grammar. Where I have included only part of a comment, an ellipsis ( ) indicates where text was cut. Text [in brackets] was supplied by me to summarize a cut portion or fix an omission. Comments are listed in order of respondents rank, which is my only basis for sequencing. I am confident that my lengthy study of these problems (combined with the input of comments) has determined the best solutions in theory. Nonetheless, it is possible that I overlooked something. Anyone who wishes to debate the analyses, or thinks there is a reason for a scoring adjustment, is welcome to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I hope you enjoyed the contest, as well as some reminiscing of kinder, gentler times. Yes, the world was a better place back then. I can remember when bombers made me think about Roller Derby; but its all different now. Thanks to all who entered, and especially those who offered kind remarks about my web site. Well, its time to close shop, so Ill leave you with these forgettable words:
Bill Powell: People used to reminisce more in the old days.
Bill Cubley: Try to remember, the hands of September I tried, but I think I need Nathan Detroit.
Gerald Cohen: Not sure about Tibetan law, but I think its possible to win a prize this month (first time I can remember).
Rob Wijman: Try to be sober, for most of October
Richard Stein: You mentioned Fritz is coming back next month. Please tell us that he will be sitting on our right, or on our left. Or at the very least, in a kibitzers chair?
Look at the bright side. He could be sitting on your lap.
Acknowledgments to Try To Remember lyricist, Tom Jones.
© 2007 Richard Pavlicek