Puzzle 8K23   Main

# Spot Card Jungle

by Richard Pavlicek

Last night at the Spotsylvania Bridge Club, I spotted a peculiar ending. South was declarer in 3 NT, a good spot despite some spotty play early on, and needed to win the last six tricks with South on lead. Amazingly, all the honor cards had been played. Declarer managed his spot cards with spotless technique to succeed, spot on.

 NT win all ?  ?  ?  ? 7 6 3 9 8 4 — — 4 7 3 7 6 5 South leads ?  ?  ?  ?

Now the spotlight is on you. Try to avoid a blind spot as you supply the missing spots.

Assign North and South each six spot cards (2-9) to win all six tricks against any defense.

Multiple solutions exist. Further goals (tiebreakers for the March contest) are for the spot cards to be as low as possible (judged by total rank sum), and for the North and South sums to be as close to equal as possible, in that order of priority.

My name is Spot Run, Spot, run!

## Jonathan Mestel Wins

In March 2011 this puzzle was presented as a contest, with 117 participants from 33 locations. Thanks to everyone who participated, and congratulations to the 84 who entered spot cards able to win six tricks. Listed below are the solvers who achieved a rank sum of 63 or less. Ties are broken by the total rank sum, evenness of the N-S split, and lastly by date-time of entry.

No tiebreaker was needed for the top spot. Jonathan Mestel was the only one to find the optimal solution, which he submitted only a day before the contest ended, which spoiled my shutout (grrr) though it hardly came as a surprise. Jonathan, a chess grandmaster since 1982, was the 1997 World Chess Solving Champion. When his interests turned to bridge, the outcome was inevitable. Five years ago he won my Six Against The Rock play contest with 1056 entrants and topped the final Leaderboard of the series with a 59.25 average (60 max).

The United Kingdom rocks — gold, silver and bronze!

Winner List
RankNameLocationSumN-S
1Jonathan MestelEngland6131-30
2James LawrenceEngland6231-31
3Wayne SomervilleNorthern Ireland6231-31
4Dan BakerTexas6231-31
5Aurelien BoutinFrance6231-31
6Benjamin YipHong Kong6231-31
7Manuel PauloPortugal6231-31
8Licai YeoSingapore6231-31
10Darek KardasPoland6231-31
11Gonzalo GodedSpain6231-31
12Jim MundayCalifornia6231-31
13Peter DuttonEngland6231-31
14Hendrik NigulEstonia6231-31
15Colin SchlossPennsylvania6231-31
16Julian WightwickEngland6231-31
17Reint OstendorfNetherlands6230-32
18John Lindsey IIMassachusetts6230-32
19Nan WangNew Jersey6230-32
20Tim BroekenNetherlands6235-27
21Charles BlairIllinois6224-38
22Jonathan WeinsteinIllinois6331-32
23John ReardonEngland6331-32
24David HodgeEngland6331-32
25Andrew BraginCalifornia6331-32
26Paul NelsonCalifornia6331-32
27Ufuk CotukEngland6331-32
28Jonathan FergusonTexas6331-32
29Joshua ParksVirginia6331-32
30Simon KearonEngland6332-31
31John KropinakOhio6333-30
32Horatio ChinHong Kong6329-34
33Alan ArdronEngland6329-34
34Dan IsraeliIsrael6329-34
35Jacqueline RappIllinois6334-29
36Sam NeedhamCalifornia6329-34
37Dan DangBritish Columbia6329-34
38Jeffery JettisonSingapore6328-35
39Lee WeinerGeorgia (US)6328-35
40Thomas HauklandNorway6327-36
41Gene OwensMichigan6327-36
42Tim DeLaneyIndiana6326-37

 Puzzle 8K23   Main Top   Spot Card Jungle

## Solution

Because honor cards (A-K-Q-J-10) are not allowed, only five winning cards — 9-8 9 9-8 — are available for North-South. Therefore, the sixth trick must come from a double finesse in spades or a squeeze. Most of the top solvers took advantage of both, finessing spades to gain one trick and squeezing out another, thus requiring only four of the five winners. This ending was typical:

 NT win allSuccess 9 8 5 5 2 2 Trick1 S2 N3 S4 N Lead 4 2 2 5 2nd667? 3rd889 4th 5 3 4 W-LW1W2W3 7 6 3 9 8 4 — — 4 7 3 7 6 5 South leads 4 2 — 9 5 8 3 East then West squeezed

After a spade finesse (West splitting) declarer returns to the 8, on which West pitches a spade (he’ll be finessed anyway) then a second spade is won in dummy. Meanwhile, East comfortably pitches a club and a heart. The  5 then squeezes both defenders: East must pitch a diamond to guard clubs, South the 3, and West must pitch a diamond to guard hearts.

Wayne Somerville: Spade to dummy (say West splits, not that it matters); club back to hand (West throws a spade); spade to dummy. The last spade effects a double squeeze.

Manuel Paulo: South leads spades twice, returning to hand via clubs; the last spade squeezes both opponents simultaneously.

Jim Munday: Double finesse spades; double squeeze around diamonds.

Everyone who submitted a 62 sum evenly split (places 2-16) duplicated the above construction, excepting the optional swap of 5-4 and 3-2 to retain the 31-31 balance.

### Guard duty

A completely different 62-sum layout was submitted by Tim Broeken (Netherlands), winner of my recent Yarborough Fair contest. While lacking in evenness (35-27), the incorporation of a double guard squeeze is noteworthy:

 NT win allSuccess 9 8 2 9 5 2 Trick1 S2 N Lead 2 8 2nd3? 3rd9 4th 3 W-LW1 7 6 3 9 8 4 — — 4 7 3 7 6 5 South leads 2 3 2 9 8 3 East then West squeezed

On the first spade, suppose East pitches a diamond as shown. The next spade squeezes him in three suits: A club pitch is an instant loss, a heart subjects West to a red-suit squeeze, and a diamond subjects West to a finesse. East cannot alter his fate by pitching a heart on the first spade, as he must pitch a diamond next, allowing West to be squeezed. A similar guard squeeze was constructed by:

Charles Blair: I wonder… If Spot were a guard dog, could he check whether my ending is legal?

All entries in this contest were verified to be legal by software before submission. Legal endings must be reachable from a full deal without a revoke or other irregularity. The following table shows the test summary for the above ending, which is legal because the Max Tricks Total is equal to or greater than the number of previous tricks.

SuitHands WithCards MissingMax Tricks
372
492
461
362
Max Tricks Total7

### In the jungle, the mighty jungle…

The lion sleeps tonight. OK, OK, it’s a leopard, and its sleep was cut short by Jonathan Mestel (England) who saw through my red herrings of finessable spades and curious heart spots. He was the only solver to discover the optimal solution (sum 61):

 NT win allSuccess 9 8 2 2 — 8 2 Trick1 S2 S3 N4 N Lead 9 3 9 8 2nd4 8 4? 3rd 28 3 4th353 W-LW1W2W3 7 6 3 9 8 4 — — 4 7 3 7 6 5 South leads — 3 9 2 9 4 3 East is squeezed

The 9 must be cashed first, pitching a heart. When a club is next led to dummy, West must unguard a red suit to protect spades; and whichever suit he gives up isolates South’s threat against East, who is squeezed on the second spade winner. This rare form of compound squeeze does not require the usual common-suit entry because of its threats in all four suits, a condition known as saturation.

The above solution is unique, assuming evenness counts. Limiting North to a sum of 31 requires the lowest spot options ( 2 8-2) so any swap with South would increase North’s sum. Further, it cannot be mirrored (e.g., swapping hands or black suits) for positional reasons and the need to cash the 9 first.

## Soft Spots

Jonathan Mestel: I’ve always had a soft spot for PavCo.

Good thing, as my company could take you out in a heartbeat with a Cell Phone Plant.

James Lawrence: Perhaps this should be called a “spot squeeze,” because it’s hard to spot.

Reint Ostendorf: I will let my bidding be inspired by your Yarborough Fair and this contest.
Interesting for you: “spotten” is a verb in Dutch meaning “to mock.”

Too late! I needed that word nine years ago when Rosalind Hengeveld told me that our “baseball” is your “honkball.”

Spot: Arf! Woof-ersehen!

 Puzzle 8K23   Main Top   Spot Card Jungle