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Bridge Problem 250 for November 2010

To celebrate Bridge Magazine’s 250th Prize Problem I present something a bit more complicated than usual.

How should West play Four Hearts? North, who opened a weak notrump, leads the K on which South drops the queen, and follows with a low club to South’s jack.

West
A Q 2  
A 10 5 3 2  
Q J 3 2  
8  
East
5 3
Q J 4
A K 6 5 4
 10 9 4

Answer to Bridge problem 250

North must hold both missing kings so West is forced to ruff the second club for fear of a spade switch. To guard against the danger that North has four trumps West should continue with a low heart. If North wins this or the next high heart from dummy, and plays A West now refuses to ruff, throwing a diamond or spade. He wins any continuation from North, draws trumps and runs the diamonds for ten tricks.

However, if North has Kxxx he does best to duck both Q and J. West cannot continue trumps and North threatens to cut West off from the fifth diamond by being careful to ruff the fourth round.

West switches to diamonds. After three rounds suppose North still has Kx and no diamonds. West must not play a fourth diamond or North will ruff and exit with K or a club to leave West with two spade losers.

So after the third diamond declarer must play the last club and throw a small spade from hand. North is endplayed with ace of clubs into conceding a trick. A fourth club is ruffed with dummy’s small trump whilst declarer disposes of Q. North can ruff the next diamond but the West hand is high.

Non-prize problem for November 2010

For the 250th Problem corner here is a famous deal from the past. How should West play 3NT after South opened a weak Two spades? North leads 3

West
K Q J 8  
A K 8  
Q 10 8  
K J 6  
East
5 3
9 7 5 3 2
K 6 5
Q 10 9

Answer to non-prize problem

Bobby Wolff faced the problem of making 3NT as West on this deal from the 1998 Macallan Pairs:

North
2
J 10 6
A 9 7 3 2
A 8 5 4
West
K Q J 8  
A K 8  
Q 10 8  
K J 6  
East
5 3
9 7 5 3 2
K 6 5
Q 10 9
South
A 10 9 7 6 4
Q 4
J 4
7 3 2

North, Alfredo Versace, led a diamond to the jack and queen. Wolff realised he must tackle clubs first to threaten North’s entry to the diamonds but he made a key play of the jack of clubs, overtaking in dummy with the queen when North ducked. Next came a spade off dummy.

Lauria rose with the ace and the defence cleared the diamonds. Declarer has only eight top tricks but when he cashed the spades North was squeezed in three suits when he was down to:

None  J 10 6  9 7  A

If North threw a winning diamond declarer could set up another club safely. So Versace discarded a heart, hoping partner held the suit. So Wolff made an overtrick.

Now try going back to the third trick. When a spade is led off dummy assume South puts in the nine. West wins and switches back to clubs. He can set up his seventh and eighth trick in the minors and after cashing all other winners can play a spade. South is all spades and has to concede the ninth trick to West.

This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.