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The Telltale Traveller

A Puzzle

by Paul Lamford, London, England, UK


"What do you make of this travelling scoresheet, Watson?" asked Holmes, arriving at the end of the weekly duplicate at the Baker Street Club.

"Very curious", replied Watson, "North-South made twelve or thirteen tricks in spades at every table except for the one at which East-West made twelve tricks in spades. It must have been mis-boarded I assume."

"On the contrary", replied Holmes, "the board was played correctly, but did you not notice that when East-West made twelve tricks, North-South were a retired colonel with a slight limp playing with his disabled wife?"

"Good gracious, how did you deduce that, Holmes?"

"Elementary, my dear Watson. Firstly, as it was clearly a Howell movement, pair 13 would be the only stationary pair and this number would have been allocated to Colonel and Mrs Fortesque-Smythe, who would not have been able to move. This is confirmed by the writing in a distinctive purple ink, which is identical to an invitation I received from Col. Fortesque-Smythe to speak at the local Rotary Club. Finally, the colonel and his wife have a bad habit of exchanging their cards before the opening lead. They clearly reached Six Hearts by North and exchanged hands before West had passed. West now bid Six Spades and was entitled to treat all 26 of the opponents' cards as penalty cards. Indeed, I heard the director relating in the bar afterwards his ruling designating all 26 cards as being prematurely exposed during the auction."

"These were the East-West hands:

S Q6
H --
D J109
C 98765432
[ ] S 93
H 8765
D 8765432
C --

It is a simple matter for you to construct the complete North-South hand, now, Watson. Of course, you would be unable to distinguish between equal spade pips, but when I inspected the board I discovered that at no stage did South contribute a higher spade than his partner to any trick. This, I believe makes the North-South hands . . . unique."

What were the North-South hands which allowed West to make Six Spades?

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Gopher Editor's note:

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