Need a website? Free website templates by professional designers at WTO.
 

Deep-and-Meaningfuls #2


By Paul Brayshaw

It's 11pm. You're staring blankly at a hand-record after the final round of the state Open Teams qualifier. Failing to make the final by a few IMPs is painful. Your team has pulled out all the stops tonight but the Holy Grail was just out of reach. Now, you're sitting together with all the humour of a funeral procession, having even forgotten to have a drink after the game. You can't get enough of the atmosphere, but unfortunately it's time to go, so you head soberly to the car with your paperwork.

As you drive home, something nags at you. Was it that your team could have made the final? No, not that. Was there an incorrect score? Hardly - anyone would bet their bottom dollar that was the first thing you all checked. No. There was something odd on a hand-record. It wasn't one of the hands you analysed; it was one of the hands you passed over -one of those uninteresting flat boards. Was it Deep Finesse? Did DF wink at you from its corner? Perhaps. It was a spade contract, wasn't it? The moment you arrive home and are safely indoors, you pull up some carpet and whip out the hand record. Aha! That was it, Board 16

West Deals
E-W Vul
♠ A 9
J 10 9
K 9 8 6
♣ J 9 4 2
♠ 8 7 4
Q 7 6 5
2
♣ K Q 10 6 3
N
WE
S
♠ 6 5
4 3 2
Q J 10 5 3
♣ A 8 5
♠ K Q J 10 3 2
A K 8
A 7 4
♣ 7

An incredibly boring board on the surface at IMPs, with the entire field in a making spade game, without question. Why had it captured your transient attention, then? You glance at DF's matrix. And there it was. South, whispers DF, can make 5S. North can only make 4S. Hmmmmmmm, 11 tricks, eh? South only made 10 at our table. You lie down on the floor in anticipation of an enjoyably lengthy analysis. DF positively beams all over its unfinished-Sudoku face. It has lured you in. Someone, finally, is listening to it. Someone, at last, wants to discover its secrets.

Very quickly you ascertain that the eleventh trick must have something to do with throwing in West with a club to lead into the hearts. But - entries are going to be a huge problem, as is East's CA. If the defence were to co-operate, say KC lead followed by another small one, the play is trivial. You can ruff it, play a spade to the ace, ruff a third club, cash DA then run trumps down to this position:

♠ —
J 10 9
K
♣ J
♠ —
Q 7 6

♣ Q 10
N
WE
S
♠ —
4 3 2
Q J
♣ —
♠ —
A K 8
7 4
♣ —

Needing four of the last five tricks, you now play a diamond to the king. West is strip-squeezed. They must hang on to their hearts and relinquish the ten of clubs. Now the CJ, pitching that small diamond from hand, and West is end played in hearts, as you envisioned. Elegant and simple. Will the defence allow you to do this? Pffft, I don't think so!

No, West is odds-on to lead their singleton diamond at trick one, so that is the obvious line to consider first. The DK must be retained in dummy, so a small one from there, capturing one of East's big ones with the ace. Now you set about the clubs by leading a small one towards dummy, but look what happens. East wins with the ace and plays another high diamond, removing a vital entry. It is no longer possible to get to dummy again after drawing the necessary three rounds of trumps to play that rascally CJ. Nor is ducking East's diamond any good, as they will simply play a third diamond for partner to ruff and that's three tricks for the defence and game over, my friend. But, note to self, that diamond position would be most interesting indeed if there were no trumps lying around ...

So the strip-squeeze cannot be the only solution, then. Well, what about those diamonds? What if East had QJ5 in a 3-card end position and dummy had K98. You could then lead a diamond to the eight and East is the one who is end played instead! True enough. But East would never hold those three cards. They would have the QJ of diamonds and a small x in hearts, one that they are never forced to play at any stage and which will be hugged closely to their chest to lead to partner's queen if they ever get in. No good.

Ah, but hang on a minute. Wait, wait, wait. You look again at the end position for the strip-squeeze and imagine how it might look had another trick been lost earlier to tighten it up, to 'rectify the count' in technical parlance. Something like this:

♠ —
J 10
K
♣ J
♠ —
Q 7 6

♣ Q
N
WE
S
♠ —
4 3
Q J
♣ —
♠ —
A K 8
7
♣ —

Yes, that's a thing of beauty! Now a diamond to the king will effect a regular squeeze on West rather than a strip-squeeze. You still have to get to this end position, however, with that DK magically still there. Once again, there's trouble on a diamond opening lead as East will simply continue them when in.

Hmmm, that's interesting, though. East needs to cede an important card, the CA, to play that diamond. That surrenders control of the club suit to West and you will no longer need to ruff them out. That means you might be able to draw trumps, since you won't need them as entries. Can you do something with the diamonds now? Let's see - diamond opening lead to the ten and ace. Draw trumps in three rounds (pitching a heart) and lead a club up ... ho, ho, ho, how interesting! You believe the defence is now stymied, but work through it just to make sure:

♠ —
J 10
K 9 8
♣ J 9 4 2
♠ —
Q 7 6 5

♣ K Q 10 6 3
N
WE
S
♠ —
4 3 2
Q J 2
♣ A 8 5
♠ J 10 3
A K 8
7 4
♣ 7

(C7 led)

i) Say West takes the club. Their only choice is another club. If it's a low one, the nine forces East's ace. You ruff, and can now strip-squeeze West as before, so West can't continue with that low club. What about another high one? No strip-squeeze now! No matter, you can let them have this trick, throwing a diamond from hand. West must now concede the 11th trick to you by either leading into the hearts or lovingly ruffing out partner's CA for you.

ii) Right, so East has to take the club. If they try another club, you can again pitch a diamond from hand and West will once more have to conveniently present you with that 11th trick on their next lead. Or East could try a heart. Bzzzzzt! Ye olde strip-squeeze. A bit different this time, as you will need to ensure you don't butcher that ending with the heart blockage:

♠ —
J
K
♣ J 4
♠ —
Q 7

♣ K Q
N
WE
S
♠ —

Q J
♣ 8 5
♠ —
K 8
7 4
♣ —

Needing three of the last four, you again can lead a diamond to the king, forcing West to bare the CK. You have dealt with that infernal heart situation by leaving an extra club x in dummy, which you will now use to throw West in. If they attempt to be clever by leading the small heart to trap you in dummy, no problem. It's got the goods.

No, back to East at (ii), who will of course play a top diamond to knock out the king. And this is where that beautiful position you envisioned earlier comes in. You can duck! Curiously, East can no longer do you any damage, as a diamond would immediately bequeath an 11th trick to you. Whatever else East does, now that the count is rectified, that simple squeeze is once again in West's near future.

The floor gets horribly uncomfortable, but you don't care. You've completely forgotten that you have just missed the final. DF has doped you with some pretty good gear this time. For free!

You're rabid and manic now. What other opening leads could West try? Not a heart, obviously. A trump looks safe and makes you work harder, but - yes - you can win this in dummy and play the diamond yourself. East has to stick in an honour. You can win, finish drawing trumps, play a club from hand and it's the same old sorry story for the defence, just reached in a round-about way. There's nothing East-West can do. Strip squeezes, simple squeezes, endplays, you've got it covered whichever parts of the kitchen sink they throw at you.

And now to the final consideration - what is it that constricts North to ten tricks in spades as declarer? Why are you telling me this, Deep? As always, in these asymmetric DF matrix situations, you can point the finger at the opening lead. You immediately see that a heart lead is fatal. Declarer must concede a club at some point. East pounces with that ace, plays another lethal heart, and all end positions disappear in a puff of logic (and I'm sure one D. Adams is turning in his grave).

It's 1am. Great. You thank DF so much for the stimulation and squint to avoid eye contact with any of its other analyses as you hide the hand record and search for the latest copy of Hansard. It should only be another two hours or so before you can get to sleep...

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



EDITING OF MATERIAL

Contributors should note that the right to modify submitted material is retained by the Editors.