Main   Challenge 7V49 by Richard Pavlicek  

The Tell-Tale Hearts

“You should have seen how wisely I proceeded — with what caution —
with what foresight — with what dissimulation…” -Edgar A. Poe

From the above quote it would seem that Edgar Allan Poe would have been a brilliant bridge player — except that his way of “counting the hands” would require dismemberment. OK, enough ghoulish history. Here’s a chance to test your own foresight with this declarer-play challenge.

As South on each problem, you are in a contract of four “tell-tale” hearts, and all you have to do is choose your play from options A-F. Each option is rated on a 1-to-10 scale based on my judgment.

In October of 2001 these problems were presented as a contest, which had 526 entrants from 95 locations. The contest is now closed, but you can still challenge yourself and find your score immediately.

Bidding is Standard American (except as noted) and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference on these agreements, see my outline of Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

So what are you waiting for? Give it a try, or I’ll call the Poe-lice. If you truly have Poe-tential, you could win a valuable prize*, but choosing a bad play could sign your chances “nevermore.”

*Prizes include kerosene lanterns and floor planks. Winners must be at least 18 years of age and have at least one vulture eye. Employees of PavCo Cemetery Auctions are ineligible. TopMain

Problem 1

Matchpoints E-W Vul

West

Pass
North
1 D
4 H
East
Pass
All Pass
South
1 H

4 H South
S K J 2
H A 9 7 6
D A J 10 5
C A Q
Lead: S 10TableEast plays S A
S 5 4 3
H Q J 10 8 5
D Q 2
C J 4 2

You play the S J. East returns the S 8, which goes to the nine and king. Your play?

  1. Lead the S 2
  2. Win H A; lead the H 6
  3. Win D A; lead the D 5
  4. Lead the D J
  5. Lead the D 5
  6. Win C A; lead the C Q
TopMain

Problem 2

IMPs N-S Vul

West

2 C
All Pass
North
Pass
Dbl*
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
4 H
*negative (4+ hearts)

4 H South
S J 9
H Q 10 9 6 3
D 8 6 5
C A 8 2
Lead: S 6TableEast plays S 10
S A K 5 3 2
H A J 5 2
D A J
C Q 5

You play dummy’s S 9 and win the ace. Your play?

  1. Lead the S K
  2. Lead the S 2
  3. Win H A; lead the H 2
  4. Lead the H 2
  5. Lead C Q (West covers) and duck
  6. Lead C 5 to ace; run the H 10
TopMain

Problem 3

IMPs None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 C
1 NT
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
2 D*
4 H
*new minor forcing

4 H South
S J 7 4 3
H A 8 4
D K Q 8
C K J 8
Lead: D 10Table
S K
H Q J 7 5 2
D A 9 6 5 3
C 5 2

Your play?

  1. Win D K; lead the S 3
  2. Win D K; H A; lead the H 4
  3. Win D K; lead the H 4
  4. Win D K; lead the D Q
  5. Win D A; run the H Q
  6. Win D A; lead the C 5
TopMain

Problem 4

Matchpoints None Vul

West

1 S
3 D
All Pass
North

Dbl
3 H
East
1 D
2 D
3 S
South
Pass
2 H
4 H

4 H South
S Q 10 6 3
H A K 7 6
D 6
C A 6 4 2
Lead: D 4TableEast wins D K
S J 8
H 9 8 5 4 3 2
D Q
C K 8 5 3

East shifts to the H J to the queen, king. On the H A West discards the D 3. Your play?

  1. Lead S 3 to the jack
  2. Lead S 3 and finesse the eight
  3. Win H 9; lead the S J
  4. Win H 9; lead S 8 to queen
  5. Win H 9; lead S 8 to 10
  6. Win H 9; lead S 8 and let it ride
TopMain

Problem 5

IMPs E-W Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 D
2 S
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
3 C
4 H

4 H South
S A Q J
H A Q 2
D A Q 10 7 6
C 8 3
Lead: H 3TableEast plays H 5
S 2
H K J 10 9
D 5 3
C A 7 6 5 4 2

Your play?

  1. Win H A; duck a club
  2. Win H A; C A; give up a club
  3. Win H J; lead spade to jack
  4. Win H J; lead diamond to queen
  5. Win H J; lead diamond to 10
  6. Win H J; duck a club
TopMain

Problem 6

IMPs Both Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

2 D*
2 NT
East

Pass
Pass
South
1 NT
2 H
4 H
*Jacoby transfer

4 H South
S Q 4
H K 10 9 8 7
D K 4
C 9 7 4 3
Lead: S JTableEast plays S A
S K 5 2
H Q J 3
D A J 10 9 5
C A J

You play the S Q. At trick two East leads the S 6 to your king; West plays S 3. Your play?

  1. Ruff spade; D K-A; ruff diamond
  2. Ruff spade; lead club to jack
  3. Lead trumps twice
  4. Lead trumps once; D K-A; ruff diamond
  5. Win D K-A; ruff diamond
  6. Lead the C J

To see how you did click

TopMain

Credits to Edgar Allan Poe (pictured) 1809-49 and his short story The Tell-Tale Heart.
© 2001 Richard Pavlicek