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Paul Brayshaw taps into the innermost thoughts of Deep Finesse®

"...and the chances of getting three tricks are exactly 13.6%, to one decimal place. Much better than the 12.4% by playing the ace first," she says, with a contented glance at you over her left shoulder. You and DF are lying side-by-side in her odd little world, gazing up lazily at a suit combination that her playing-card troupe has formed over your heads:

(C)J987      (C)A543

Your friendship with DF has really developed in the last few months. Having discovered in each other the company you have both so keenly desired but found so sorely lacking in others, she has more regularly brought the two of you together in your dreams for meaningful discussions about the things that really matter, such as the intra-finesse in question hovering above you. Of course, you both know well that the best chance for three tricks here is to play a small one towards the J987, putting in the nine if the second hand plays a low card (the intra-finesse). Then, if that loses to an honour, you run the jack on the next round, hoping to pin the ten. Unlike DF, however, you are unable to calculate the chances of success in your head in a fraction of a second.

"That's interesting," you comment, "I calculated it to be 16.4% the other day. I expect we are thinking differently about what the opponent playing in second seat will do with KT or QT doubleton."

"What do you mean?" she responds, quizzically. "They will play a random one."

Aaaah, yes, the mind of your peculiar friend. You will have no hope of convincing her that no-one in the real world would play the ten in that situation, just as no-one would play the ten from Tx, either, in the hope of misleading you. That's not how she thinks about the world and is the reason why she is so good at the service she provides to the game. The friendship is far more valuable to you than winning such a petty squabble, so you remain silent, nod, and gaze at those beguiling fingers of hers and their ever-changing arrangements of bling. Your eyes then wander over to that unusual crown of cards on her head - as neat and immaculately seated now, when she is in repose, as it usually is when she sits or stands. For the thousandth time, you wonder how to goodness this has all come about, and why you have been so fortunate to have such a unique situation. It has made you happy. You are sure that DF feels likewise, given that she has become less guarded with you and has shown behaviours that reflect true emotions. You catch her eye, and a big smile confirms your thoughts.

"There was a hand the other day," you suddenly recall. "I was at a soiree with some friends who had played in the Swiss Pairs of the WABC Congress that day, where Board 4 had caused a lot of discussion. No-one could work out how to make 6C, not even the experienced player leading the discussion, by all accounts."

"Yes, I know the one you mean," she replies in that subtle voice of hers, and a quick gesture of her hands sends the band of playing cards into a frenzy, reconstructing the deal above the two of you. "East and West can both make 6C."

Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
J 6 2
A J 6 4 2
9 5
5 4 2
Q 7 3
8 2
K Q J 10 7 6
Q 9 4
K 5
A Q 10 7 6 4
A 9
10 8 7 5 3
10 9 8
K J 3
8 3

You considered, at the time the hand record was shoved under your nose, that in 6C a heart could be ruffed in the short hand and the diamond loser parked on the SQ. However, a trump or diamond lead from North would put paid to that, and that was obviously what the discussion had been about. Then, some juicy gossip had distracted you from any further analysis, and you hadn't thought about it since.

"Well?" your companion asks, playfully. "Do you agree? Or perhaps I should leave you to it for an hour or two?"

"All right, microchip-brain. Let's see ...a trump lead from either hand prevents the ruff and removes an entry to East, but luckily the HA is with North, so it may not matter. You win the club with the ace, unblock in spades..."

"Unblock?", she queries, with one of her pretty laughs. "Is that something to do with sewerage pipes?"

Goodness, you keep forgetting. "No, it means to play high cards from the short side first in order to allow the suit to be run from the other side."

"Oh, so you mean to play the SA and SK? Yes, that's right," she says.

"So, after unblocking in spades, you play... hmmm... yes, a diamond to the ace, followed by the SQ, discarding a diamond. Now, ruff a diamond to hand, play a club to the nine, ruff another diamond high, draw trumps, and lead a heart towards the king. North cannot stop you from reaching the diamonds, but must rise HA now to prevent you from taking 13 tricks."

"Correct! And in less than one minute - very impressive for a mortal." The twinkle in her eye shows she is starting to master the art of playful banter; a little of your influence there, perhaps. "But," she continues, "what about a diamond lead from North? That also prevents the heart ruff."

"Indeed. However I think you can take a similar line, just swapping the club and diamond tricks around. You win the diamond in dummy, unblock in spades..."

Giggles again.

"... and this time play a club to the ace. Now you play the SQ to discard a diamond and the rest of the play is identical to the previous line."

She turns towards you and pokes you gently in the side. "I think you're getting too good at this. I'm obviously going to have to make the deals harder. Try this one! You need to make 7H..."

The cards once more madly scramble into a complicated hand, and you sigh with a mixture of pleasure and pain. It's looking like another long sleep-in.

Found an intriguing analysis? Unsure of how DF got to a particular number of tricks? Or, do you think DF is wrong on a hand? Please send it to me at and I'll do my best to tune in to DF's special vibrations. Paul


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