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 SouthN-S Vul A K 3 2 Q J 10 5 4 3 2 A 2 WestPassPassPass North2 6 EastPassPass SOUTH1 NT2 Pass Q J 5 4 9 8 J 10 9 8 K 4 3 6 K 7 6 5 4 3 7 9 8 7 6 5 Lead: J 10 9 8 7 A 2 A K Q 6 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 ?

## Solution

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

 6 South A K 3 2 Q J 10 5 4 3 2 A 2 Trick1 W2 S3 S4 S5 S6 E7 S Lead J 10 9 K 2! 4 Q 2nd24588A3 3rd7233Q92 4thA6 3 5K106 W-LW1W2W3W4L1W5W6 Q J 5 4 9 8 J 10 9 8 K 4 3 6 K 7 6 5 4 3 7 9 8 7 6 5 Lead: J 10 9 8 7 A 2 A K Q 6 Q J 10

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

 win allSuccess A K J 5 4 A Trick8 S9 N10 N Lead 7 K J 2ndJ 67 3rdA8 6 4th 5Q? W-LW1W2 Q J — 10 9 K 4 — 7 6 5 — 9 8 7 South leads 8 7 — Q 6 J 10 West is squeezed

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

Variation: If East refuses the K when offered, return to your A, win the club finesse, and cross to North with a spade. Next lead the losing 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:

 win allSuccess A 3 J 5 — Trick10 S11 N12 E Lead J J 9 2ndKK 7 3rd 3 6!? 4th8 10 W-LW1L1 Q 5 — 10 K — K 7 — 9 8 South leads 8 7 — 6 J

Ruff the J in dummy then lead the 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 Q is smothered: If he overruffs, overruff in dummy; if he underruffs, pitch the diamond.

 Puzzle 7F33   Main Top   Backward Finesse