Puzzle 7F33   Main


Backward Finesse


  by Richard Pavlicek

Partner does not believe in scientific bidding, as most of his auctions resemble this one. At least he bothered to use Stayman. Otherwise, his only investigation will be after the fact to determine why you didn’t make this overbid. And if you happen to succeed, it will only fuel his maniacal ways. Have fun!

6 S South
N-S Vul
S A K 3 2
H Q J 10
D 5 4 3 2
C A 2
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North

2 C
6 S
East

Pass
Pass
SOUTH
1 NT
2 S
Pass
S Q J 5 4
H 9 8
D J 10 9 8
C K 4 3
TableS 6
H K 7 6 5 4 3
D 7
C 9 8 7 6 5
Lead: D J S 10 9 8 7
H A 2
D A K Q 6
C Q J 10

At first glance this slam looks easy with every finesse working, but a closer inspection reveals only 11 tricks. Can you make 6 S?

To get you started, West will not cover any spade lead from your hand, though the contract can be made regardless.

Solution

After winning the D A and S 10-9 (West ducking both) you may cash the D K (optional), but there is only one winning lead next: the heart two. That’s right; to succeed you must attack hearts backward.

6 S South S A K 3 2
H Q J 10
D 5 4 3 2
C A 2
Trick
1 W
2 S
3 S
4 S
5 S
6 E
7 S
Lead
D J
S 10
S 9
D K
H 2!
H 4
C Q
2nd
2
4
5
8
8
A
3
3rd
7
2
3
3
Q
9
2
4th
A
6
H 3
C 5
K
10
6
W-L
W1
W2
W3
W4
L1
W5
W6
S Q J 5 4
H 9 8
D J 10 9 8
C K 4 3
Table S 6
H K 7 6 5 4 3
D 7
C 9 8 7 6 5



Lead: D J
S 10 9 8 7
H A 2
D A K Q 6
C Q J 10

Assume East wins the gifted H K and returns a heart to your ace. Next lead the C Q, which West of course ducks to reach this ending:

S win all
Success
S A K
H J
D 5 4
C A
Trick
8 S
9 N
10 N
Lead
S 7
S K
H J
2nd
J
H 6
7
3rd
A
8
D 6
4th
H 5
Q
?
W-L
W1
W2
S Q J
H
D 10 9
C K 4
Table S
H 7 6 5
D
C 9 8 7



South leads
S 8 7
H
D Q 6
C J 10
West is squeezed

Draw the remaining trumps then cash the H J, discarding the D 6 from your hand. West is caught in a crisscross squeeze: If he pitches a diamond, unblock the D Q to make dummy high; if he pitches a club, unblock the C A to make your hand high.

Variation: If East refuses the H K when offered, return to your H A, win the club finesse, and cross to North with a spade. Next lead the losing H J and pitch your low diamond. West has no recourse.

What if West covers one of your early spade leads? Curiously, this breaks up the crisscross squeeze but leads to another remarkable ending. All side-suit winners are cashed with routine finesses in clubs and hearts to reach this ending:

S win all
Success
S A 3
H J
D 5
C
Trick
10 S
11 N
12 E
Lead
C J
H J
C 9
2nd
K
K
S 7
3rd
S 3
D 6!
?
4th
8
D 10
W-L
W1
L1
S Q 5
H
D 10
C K
Table S
H K 7
D
C 9 8



South leads
S 8 7
H
D 6
C J

Ruff the C J in dummy then lead the H J, but do not ruff it; pitch your diamond to leave East on lead (West cannot gain by ruffing partner’s trick). Ruff the forced club or heart return, and West’s S Q is smothered: If he overruffs, overruff in dummy; if he underruffs, pitch the diamond.

Puzzle 7F33   MainTop   Backward Finesse

© 1996 Richard Pavlicek