Main   Challenge 8Y49 by Richard Pavlicek  

I Walk the Line

Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. No, wait! I’m Richard, but I have a guitar case full of cash (thanks Matilda). When I was a kid, I remember my Father listening to the title song on the car radio. I thought it was cool, despite being baffled by part of the lyrics.

Does “I keep the ends out for the tie that binds” mean he sticks out his butt cheeks when his necktie is tight? Whatever! Since then, I’ve been a Johnny Cash fan, and a day rarely goes by now that I don’t listen to his music (usually on CD in my car).

In memory of the 10-time Grammy winning “Man in Black,” you have been dealt 10 black cards on each of these hands and are declarer in spades or clubs (what else). Aggressive bidding may have driven you overboard, so be prepared to walk the line. And keep your eyes wide open all the time, or you’ll be going down as sure as night is dark and day is light.

As South, just choose your play from the options (A-F) listed; each option will be rated on a 1-to-10 scale per my judgment.

Bidding is standard, and your opponents use standard leads and signals. For a reference, see my outline of Standard American Bridge. Assume all players are experts.

In July 2007 these six problems were presented as a contest with 690 entrants from 110 locations. The contest is closed, but you can still quiz yourself and find your score immediately. If you’re lucky, you might even win a valuable prize.*

*Prizes are all cash. You bring the truck, and I’ll fill it! I have millions to unload before it burns, burns, burns in a ring of fire. Winners must be at least 18 years of age. Void where prohibited by law, or in any Interpol member country.

You’ve got a way to keep me on your side… For you I know I’d even try to turn the tide. Now start walkin’! TopMain

Problem 1

IMPs None Vul

West

2 D*
3 H
All Pass
North

Pass
3 NT
East
1 NT
2 H
Pass
South
Pass
3 C
4 C
*Jacoby

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

After winning the H A, how do you play?

  1. Win H K (pitch spade); ruff heart
  2. Win H K (pitch spade); run C 10
  3. Win H K (pitch diamond); ruff heart
  4. Win H K (pitch diamond); run C 10
  5. Ruff heart; lead C Q
  6. Ruff heart; lead C 3
TopMain

Problem 2

IMPs E-W Vul

West
2 D
Pass
All Pass
North
Pass
3 S
East
Pass
Pass
South
2 S
4 S

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

East returns the D 7 to the eight; then West leads the D J, East pitches the C 8, and you ruff. Next?

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

Problem 3

IMPs Both Vul

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

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

West next leads the H A (East plays H 10) then the S 3, won in dummy as East plays S 7. Next?

  1. Draw trumps
  2. Ruff heart (high); draw trumps
  3. Ruff heart (high); finesse C J
  4. Ruff heart (low); finesse C J
  5. Win D A; finesse C J
  6. Lead the C J
TopMain

Problem 4

IMPs N-S Vul

West

2 H
All Pass
North
Pass
Dbl¹
East
1 H
3 H²
South
1 S
5 C
1. responsive
2. obstructive

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

East returns the H 7. How do you play?

  1. Pitch a diamond
  2. Ruff (high); win S A; C 10
  3. Ruff (high); win C 10; ruff heart
  4. Ruff (high); win C 10; C Q
  5. Ruff (low); finesse D Q
  6. Ruff (low); finesse D 10
TopMain

Problem 5

IMPs None Vul

West
1 D
Pass
North
Dbl
5 S
East
Pass
All Pass
South
4 S

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

West next leads the D A (East plays D 6) then the C J. Your play?

  1. Win C K; S A
  2. Win C K; ruff D Q; win S A
  3. Win C K; ruff D Q; finesse S J
  4. Win C K; ruff D Q; win H A
  5. Win C Q; S A
  6. Win C Q; finesse S J
TopMain

Problem 6

IMPs Both Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 H
4 C*
6 C
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
5 S
6 S
*splinter

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

Enough walkin’! This time you run the line. How do you justify such optimism?

  1. Win D A; H A; lead S J to queen
  2. Win D A; H A; lead S 7 to queen
  3. Win D A; H A; lead D 6
  4. Win D A; H A; ruff club
  5. Play the D J
  6. Play the D 8

To see how you did click

TopMain

Credits to Johnny Cash (1932-2003) and his song “I Walk the Line.”
© 2007 Richard Pavlicek