Puzzle 7F27 Main

# Perilous Pinochle

by Richard Pavlicek

West’s unusual 2 NT bid (takeout for the unbid suits) may have propelled North-South into this precarious slam. North bid aggressively because the heart finesse rated to work, however this may have been short-sighted. An offsetting factor was the likelihood of bad breaks, which suggests caution.

 North deals 10 9 8 2 West North East South N-S vul A Q 1 Pass 1 A K Q 6 2 NT 4 Pass 5 K 7 6 Pass 5 Pass 6 J Q 7 6 5 Pass Pass Pass K 10 9 8 7 6 3 2 7 J 10 9 8 Q J 10 9 8 5 4 3 A K 4 3 J 5 4 Lead: Q 5 4 3 2 6 South A 2

West leads the Q, and there you are. With the heart finesse on, you have 11 easy tricks by playing trumps correctly (ace then finesse). Your 12th trick might come from a ruff or perhaps a squeeze. More good news is that you can see all four hands.

Can you make 6 against best defense?

 Puzzle 7F27 Main Top Perilous Pinochle

## Solution

The opening club lead foils any squeeze against West. Declarer must give up a trick to rectify the count, then another club lead will remove the crucial club entry.

Negotiating a successful ruff is not easy either. If declarer tries to ruff a heart in dummy, he will be overruffed. If he ruffs a club in his hand, he cannot pick up East’s Q by finessing. Or can he?

The contract can be made with a loser-on-loser smother play.

 6 South 10 9 8 2 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A Q 1. W Q 6 3 A A K Q 6 2. S A J 2 5 K 7 6 3. S 4 6 Q 2 J Q 7 6 5 4. N 10 6 3 7 K 10 9 8 7 6 3 2 5. N A 3 5 8 7 J 10 9 8 6. N K 4 2 8 Q J 10 9 8 5 4 3 7. N A 8 2 7 A K 4 3 8. N K 9 3 9 J 5 4 9. N Q 10 4 9 5 4 3 2 10. N 7 5 4 10 A 2 continued below…

Win the A, cash the A and finesse the Q. Run the 10, which East must duck, else you can ruff a club for a 12th trick. Next cash all of North’s winners, and ruff a club in your hand to reach this ending:

 win 2 9 8 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th — 11. S J K 6! J 6 Win the rest — — Q 7 K 10 — — J J — K J 5 South leads —

Lead the J to West’s king and discard the diamond from dummy. East cannot gain by ruffing his partner’s trick, so he discards the J. The forced heart or club return is ruffed in dummy, and the Q is hopelessly trapped. If East overruffs, South does also; if East underruffs, South discards.

East hoped to win a trick with both the J and Q — a “pinochle” if you know the game. Alas, he had to throw the J on partner’s heart, then watch his Q disappear as well.

 Puzzle 7F27 Main Top Perilous Pinochle