Main     Puzzle 7F33 by Richard Pavlicek    

Backward Finesse

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!

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

West

Pass
Pass


North

2 C
6 S


East

Pass
All Pass


South
1 NT
2 S
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

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, assume West does not cover any spade lead from your hand, though the contract can be made regardless.

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Solution

Solution
6 S 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
W 5 L 1
Lead
D J
S 10
S 9
D K
H 2!
H 4
2nd
2
4
5
8
8
A
3rd
7
2
3
3
Q
9
4th
A
6
H 3
C 5
K
10
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
S 10 9 8 7
H A 2
D A K Q 6
C Q J 10

Assuming West ducks the S 10-9, 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. Assume East wins and returns a heart to your ace. Next lead the C Q (see ending) which West must duck. Then draw the remaining trumps and cash the H J, discarding the D 6 from your hand, to catch West in a crisscross squeeze. South
leads
S A K
H J
D 5 4
C A 2
S Q J
H
D 10 9
C K 4 3
Table S
H 7 6 5
D
C 9 8 7 6
S 8 7
H
D Q 6
C Q J 10

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 the ending at right. The C J is ruffed, then the H J goes to the king as South pitches a diamond. West also throws a diamond (he can’t gain by ruffing) then his S Q is smothered on the return. South
leads
S A 3
H J
D 5
C
S Q 5
H
D 10
C K
Table S
H K 7
D
C 9 8
S 8 7
H
D 6
C J

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© 1996 Richard Pavlicek