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DEEP-AND-MEANINGFULS #3


Paul Brayshaw taps into the innermost thoughts of Deep Finesse®

'Nooooo, that doesn't work either!' you rant, pounding the table and issuing forth a groan that sounds more like an elongated grunt. After a brief time-out to silently curse Deep Finesse (aloud) and glance at the ceiling for inspiration, you reconstruct the original hands yet again with weary determination. It must be possible to make Five Hearts, you keep convincing yourself. DF says so. DF is never wrong ...

Earlier ...

Casually glancing over the hand record from the second night of the WA Open Pairs the following day, it doesn't take long for DF to lure you with its magic, siren-like calls to Board 4. '11 tricks in hearts, by either hand,' calls the irresistible temptress from her corner square.

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

'Well, this can't be too difficult,' you think, as ten toppies with the aid of the heart finesse are patent, with the diamond suit bound to be good for the eleventh. Your face falls somewhat when you realise that, however you play the diamonds, there is no way to force an eleventh trick. But never mind, perhaps there is an endplay of some sort.

You turn your attention to the clubs. Can an extra trick be forced there? Nope. The spades don't break either and they are sitting on the wrong side. Aha! Since both defenders are guarding clubs, there must be a double squeeze - the black suits against West and the minors against East. Your brow furrows when you realise that there is no link in the double menace (clubs) and hence no way to set up a standard double squeeze matrix. But never mind, perhaps there is some sort of non-simultaneous version

The next port of call is a simple squeeze. Can the club menace be isolated to one defender? Certainly. If the CQ is led from South and West covers, you can ruff it, and you'll just need to duck a spade and a diamond at some stage to rectify the count. For argument's sake, assume a spade opening lead from either hand. Let West win that. Now West switches to a diamond to the ten and jack. East can have that one. Count rectified! East's best continuation is a spade. Win, finesse in trumps and play the CQ when next in the South hand. If West covers, you can ruff, draw any outstanding trumps and run hearts down to this position:

7
7
K 9 4
J 10
3
10 8
N
WE
S
Q 8 2
K 7
K 2
A 7
J

That's looking good. On the H7 East can afford their small club, but on the subsequent play of a spade to the king, they are put through the mincer. Minor-suit squeeze and 11 tricks to the good guys. What a relief! There is actually a line to make it. But no West will be stupid enough to cover the CQ when you lead it, so it's a moot point, really. But never mind, perhaps we can isolate the menace against West instead?

Let's see. Isolation should be possible - one of the tricks we lose can be a club ducked to East. Doesn't look promising with that spade position, but let's check to be sure. Spade opening lead again, ducked, but this time we'll win the diamond continuation with the DA. Finesse in trumps and play CQ when next in the South hand. West, as we have concluded, is not a moron and will not cover this. So we pitch a diamond and let East win with CK. Count rectified! East can play another club if they like. You ruff, finish drawing trumps, cash DK and run trumps down to this position:

7 5
7
9
J 10 6
A
N
WE
S
3
Q
7 6
A K 2
J

Bzzzzzzzt! On the H7, South is squeezed first and West survives another day. This always happens to you with positional squeezes, you reflect, and this hand is no exception. But never mind, perhaps there is some sort of strip-squeeze on East.

You ruminate on such a strip-squeeze until it dawns on you that West will never part with their CA. They will always have a spade to cash. East will cling desperately to a small x in clubs whatever you do. That trio of facts is like a Bermuda Triangle that sinks any throw-in attempts.

You're a little bit worried now. Come on, get a grip. You must be able to solve this. You revisit the only untried option you've come up with - a non-simultaneous double-squeeze. A dark, soul-destroying half-hour is spent trying every possible combination, only to have the defence prevail each time. The frustration builds. You're going to burst.

'Nooooo, that doesn't work either!' you rant, pounding the table and issuing forth a groan that sounds more like an elongated grunt. After a brief time-out to silently curse Deep Finesse (aloud) and glance at the ceiling for inspiration, you reconstruct the original hands yet again with weary determination. It must be possible to make Five Hearts, you keep convincing yourself. DF says so. DF is never wrong.

One last try and you're an entry short. Right, that's the last straw. DF has sunk you this time. You bang your head too hard on the table and suddenly enter a very calm, surreal space. Cards whiz by in the swimming, misty darkness. The full deal forms itself in this void and you observe silently from somewhere in the ?ther. Cards start to play themselves and you can't tell if this is all a dream or if there is some intervention from mysterious forces. Declarer wins the opening spade lead. Hearts are finessed and drawn in three rounds, the North hand entered with a club ruff during the process. All the hearts but one are now cashed. So far, so very normal. The matrix hovers in the ?ther:

7 5
6
K 10 9 4
Q J
5 3
A 10 8 5
N
WE
S
3
Q J 8 2
K 7
K
A 7 6
Q J 9

The DT is now led, to the jack and ace. Next comes the SK. How bizarre - entries are of no consideration in this alternative space, it appears, but your overwhelming sensation is that of calmness and you just let it happen. No defender has felt pain, and nor do you as you float near the strangely stark position, which is now static and suspended like an apparition in front of your eyes.

7
6
K 9 4
Q
5
A 10 8 5
N
WE
S
Q 8 2
K 7
7 6
Q J 9

"Am I supposed to do something now? - you ponder. The pantomime seems to have come to a halt right before your eyes. You suddenly become conscious that you are, in fact, face down in a pile of cards with your eyes open, and they are in the exact formation as in your vision. You sit up and stare, perplexed, for a few moments. Then you quickly glance at the pile of tricks - all eight to NS so far. Then you smile. Your hand reaches for the CQ. "Checkmate", you whisper.

Explaining your hallucination to an incredulous friend the following day, you reach the same diagram on the back of a beer coaster. "... and now, as a sudden, sharp turn in the course of events, the CQ finishes them off", you explain.

Raised eyebrows and a doubtful expression convey your friend's thoughts on the matter. Unabashed, you swig from your pint and continue.

"Firstly, if West covers, you ruff and play a small diamond from North. East inserts the eight to win the trick and can cash CK, but then is end played in diamonds. Of course, it is also no good to jettison the CK under the ace, as the same throw-in occurs with the additional option of giving South a club trick."

"But West won't cover!" protests your exasperated friend.

"Indeed. West must duck. North now pitches a spade and East takes the king. Not wishing to present you with an eleventh trick in diamonds, West is forced to continue clubs. North ruffs and leads a small diamond as before to endplay East."

"Hmmm, OK, that's nice," your friend concedes. "But surely the defence can avert this position?"

"No, that's the beauty of it. It is always possible to reach the position above, regardless of the opening lead. Unless, of course, the defence presents you with the eleventh trick earlier on."

"And what exactly is the term for this end position?" your friend enquires.

"Good question. It's a sort of avoidance strip and endplay in two parts."

"Sounds like a dodgy stage drama to me," is your friend's helpful observation. "Drinks, please!"

As you raise your ale of choice to your lips, you wonder which strange, dark alleyways of your brain DF will lead you down next time. Perhaps you will discover things there that are best left alone. Or perhaps, even, the solution to the world's problems lie within. Or at least, the world's double-dummy problems. The only thing you know for certain is that you will once again succumb to the charms of DF the next time she calls...

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 ☺



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