Puzzle 8K17   Main

# What’s on South?

by Richard Pavlicek

### The Miami Beach Club presentsAbbott and Costello

Hey Lou! Suppose you are South playing six clubs.

Huh? Most clubs we ever played in Miami are three.

No, no. You are South in a contract of six clubs.

Do whatever you want, but I ain’t signing it!

Bridge, you twit! In clubs you need 12 tricks.

Who do I look like, The Amazing Kreskin?

Your club suit can be as long as you want.

Come on! You know I wear a 46 tux, short.

Only defense to put you down is a heart attack.

I ain’t ready for the big one yet! Hey Ab-b-bott!

Never mind, you cry baby. Maybe our audience will be interested:

 6 South ?  ?  ?  ? 9 3 2 A J 9 8 7 6 5 3 — A 10 J 7 5 4 Q 10 4 2 Q 10 9 7 8 Heart lead ?  ?  ?  ?

Now it’s your turn to join the comedy act:

Construct a South hand for which only a heart lead will defeat six clubs.

Multiple solutions exist. Further goals (tiebreakers for the February contest) are for the North-South HCP and rank sums (in that order of priority) to be as close to equal as possible.

## Manuel Paulo Wins

In February 2011 this puzzle was presented as a contest, with 71 participants from 30 locations. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to the 11 solvers who produced a South hand (completing the deal) such that only a heart lead will defeat 6 . Only three found the optimal solution to split the N-S HCP evenly (13 each). Everyone listed below equalized the N-S rank sums (107 each) so the ties among equivalent HCP splits are broken by date-time of entry.

Like my last contest, this was a European romp, and even more so, as they landed the top seven places. That’s OK. Next time my entry form will require a U.S. Social Security No. to teach you guys a lesson. At least the winner is from a different country, Portugal, a place I’ve always wanted to visit so I could learn to speak Brazilian. Manuel Paulo has been a brilliant participant in my past polls and contests, and the winner of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" almost a decade ago.

Winner List
RankNameLocationN-S HCP
1Manuel PauloPortugal13-13
2James LawrenceEngland13-13
3Jonathan MestelEngland13-13
4Jean-Baptiste CourtoisFrance15-11
5Dean PokornyCroatia15-11
6Tim BroekenNetherlands15-11
7John ReardonEngland15-11
8Jonathan WeinsteinIllinois15-11
9Charles BlairIllinois8-18
11Jim MundayCalifornia8-18

 Puzzle 8K17   Main Top   What’s on South?

## Solution

Almost everyone who entered produced a layout where the A lead would defeat 6 ; though in most cases, so would another suit lead. A common oversight was that the A lead followed by the A would be just as effective as the A from the start. On the surface, it is hard to see how a heart lead could be essential — the ace will be ruffed — but that’s what makes it a puzzle.

Before showing the optimal solution, let’s look at a few others. I was impressed by a cute angle presented by Charles Blair, but then with a Ph.D in math he should know all about acute angles. Anyone can lead an ace, but even a low heart does the job on this layout:

 6 South A K 10 8 6 — J 8 6 5 4 4 3 2 Trick1 W2 S3 W Lead 3 J 2 2nd 4A 3rdQ2 4thK8 W-LW1L1 9 3 2 A J 9 8 7 6 5 3 — A 10 J 7 5 4 Q 10 4 2 Q 10 9 7 8 Lead: 3 Q K A K 3 2 K Q J 9 7 6 5 Declarer fails

Despite being gifted the K, declarer can do no better than if the ace were led. After winning the A, West must return a spade to break up a squeeze against partner. Note that if West starts the A, he cannot lead both a heart and a spade, as needed to ruin communication. Or if he starts a spade, that suit is unblocked while dummy has an entry (heart ruff).

A few solvers thought Charles’s anomaly was the object of the puzzle, i.e., to beat 6 with any heart lead; but this was a misinterpretation. The dialogue of “a heart attack” and my wording of “only a heart lead will beat 6 ” is not the same as to write “any heart.” One might also infer that a low heart would be more like a surrender than an attack.

Alas, the above layout comes nowhere near an even N-S HCP split with its 8:18 division.

### French connection

Improving the HCP division to 15:11 was this entry from Jean-Baptiste Courtois (France):

 6 South Q K A K 3 2 Q J 9 6 5 4 3 Trick1 W2 S3 N4 N5 W Lead A 7 A 3 2 2ndK107 4 3rd2J4K 4th 28 3A W-LW1W2W3L1 9 3 2 A J 9 8 7 6 5 3 — A 10 J 7 5 4 Q 10 4 2 Q 10 9 7 8 Lead: A A K 10 8 6 — J 8 6 5 4 K 7 2 Declarer fails

Jean-Baptiste Courtois: Nice puzzle. Only the A lead attacks South’s entry before he has time to unblock spades.

In Jean’s layout West must duck when South leads the 7 (optional if South leads the K) and routinely refuse to ruff a high diamond. When given the A, a spade return is essential to prevent East from being squeezed. Or as another solver eloquently put it:

Jonathan Weinstein: After the heart attack, Lou could be saved by compressions to the right ventricle (East), but a timely spade play from West prevents any such pressure.

Everyone placing 4-8 produced the above layout, excepting variations in the minor spot cards. Indeed, this would have been the winner if South were required to have three or more clubs. But no such stipulation was made, and Lou offered a subtle hint to the contrary:

### “I wear a 46 tux, short”

Lou’s “size 46” might refer to South’s diamond and spade lengths, but that’s way too subtle. The key word was short. When Lou Costello performed in clubs he wore a short suit, which is “What’s on South” in the diagram below. Hats off to the three solvers who found the only layout with a 13-13 HCP split:

 6 South — — A K J 6 5 K Q 9 7 6 5 4 2 Trick1 W2 N3 N Lead A K A 2nd 487 3rd232 4thK10 3 W-LW1W2W3 9 3 2 A J 9 8 7 6 5 3 — A 10 J 7 5 4 Q 10 4 2 Q 10 9 7 8 Lead: A A K Q 10 8 6 K 8 4 3 2 J 3 Declarer fails

After the A lead, declarer is dead in the water, being unable to reach his hand. West of course ducks the K and refuses to ruff the A. In fact, declarer must next lead a low diamond, endplaying East, to escape for down one. Note that an opening lead in either black suit lets declarer reach his hand.

## Last Looks

Jonathan Mestel: Bud: Look, Lou! Six clubs is a good save against five hearts, which makes on an endplay.
Lou: End play? Does this mean I can go home now?

Jim Munday: Looks like the makings of a new feature in the ACBL Bulletin
“Bridge with the Ab-b-bott!” — with apologies to David Bird.

Darn! I was aiming for a TV slot on Sesame Street — with apologies to Big Bird.

 Puzzle 8K17   Main Top   What’s on South?

Acknowledgments to Bud Abbott and Lou Costello with fond memories