Main     Puzzle 7F43 by Richard Pavlicek    

Tenuous Technique

After a routine Stayman sequence, you end up in the world’s most common contract. Prospects are only fair, but the opening lead is generous, offering a free finesse that would mean eight top tricks. Where there are eight, a great technician can usually produce nine. Are you up to the task?

Problem
3 NT S A 6 5 4
H 3 2
D A Q 10 9
C 4 3 2
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass


North

2 C
3 NT


East

Pass
All Pass


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

First looks suggest that East may be a squeeze victim, but this is easier said than done. Problem is the count is not rectified, and the opponents will not sit idly by but attack your entries at any opportunity. To reduce the scope, assume a spade will be led if you give up the lead.

Make 3 NT.

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Solution

First, do not accept the free finesse but win the D K to unblock. Next duck a heart, not only to help rectify the count but to restrict the enemy communication. Assume West wins and leads the S J, which you duck; then the next spade must be won with the ace — an unusual maneuver, blocking the suit. Another heart is ducked to West’s jack (if West wins the ace it puts even greater pressure on East). Assume West returns a diamond (best) won by the 10, then the D A is cashed.

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

Do not cash the D Q (see ending) but win your C A-K to remove West’s exit cards. Next lead a heart to West (pitch the club from dummy) who becomes a stepping-stone to reach the D Q. Meanwhile, East remains with S Q H K C Q and is triple squeezed. A club or heart pitch lets you win a trick in that suit (S K entry). If instead he pitches the S Q, you will jettison the S K to leave dummy high with S 6-5. North
leads
S 6 5
H
D Q
C 4 3 2
S
H A
D J 8 7
C J 10
Table S Q
H K 9
D
C Q 9 8
S K
H Q 6
D
C A K 6

The defense I followed seemed like the strongest, but there are many variations. Declarer can always succeed with a diamond opening lead. Curiously, the contract can be defeated with either black-suit lead, which emphasizes how tenuous the timing is.

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© 1997 Richard Pavlicek