Main Puzzle 7F59 by Richard Pavlicek
J 10 9
A Q 4 3 2
A K Q 2
J 10 9 8 7 6 5
8 7 6 5 4 3
| A K Q 8|
A K Q 8 7
J 10 9
| J 10 7 6 5 4 3 2|
6 5 4 3 2
A. What is the optimum contract for North-South?
B. What is the optimum contract for East-West?
B. The optimum contract for East-West is less obvious. It is easy to see that East (or West for that matter) can make two notrump East has eight winners and North has five, so the play is straightforward. But can they do better? Can East make three hearts? No, only the same eight tricks are available.
What about in diamonds? Only eight tricks are available by West, although East can make three diamonds four of Wests clubs go away because South must lead a major suit. Alas, making three diamonds is still an inferior score to two notrump, so were back to square one.
Enter the bizarre. The optimum contract for East-West is also three spades, played by East. Regardless of the lead, East wins one top trump and five hearts. Note that South must now ruff all plain-suit leads and repeatedly lead trumps, allowing East to score the eight spot as his ninth trick.
As Victor Mollos Hideous Hog would describe it, Curious hand; makes three spades both ways.
© 1999 Richard Pavlicek