Main     Puzzle 7F15 by Richard Pavlicek    

The Old Insurance Play

After a wild auction with no way to ask about aces, you take a desperate stab at 7 NT. Seven spades would have been more sensible, but anyone could make that contract. East doubles for a club lead (dummy’s bid suit) while West searches under the table and on the floor to find one. With this kind of luck, you probably should have redoubled.

Problem
7 NT× S
H K 2
D A Q J 8
C K Q J 10 9 8 7
Both Vul

West
4 H
Pass


North
5 C
Pass


East
Pass
Dbl


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

Still unable to find a club, West wisely leads his long suit. Which heart honor do you win at trick one, and how do you make this contract.

Warning! It is harder than it looks.

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Solution

At first sight the contract looks easy; declarer has two top hearts, eight spades and at least three diamonds with the finesse. But this is an illusion. Declarer cannot win three diamond tricks because of entry problems; the finesse must be postponed until the end (else South will be locked out of his hand) and it cannot be repeated. If you played out the hand in typical fashion, you would discover the annoying ending in the diamond suit.

The solution is to win the opening lead twice — an “insurance play” to guard against losing the first trick. That’s right; North’s king and South’s ace must both be played at trick one. This sets the stage to put pressure on West as spades are run.

Solution
7 NT× S
H K 2
D A Q J 8
C K Q J 10 9 8 7
Trick
1. W
2. S
3. S
4. S
5. S
6. S
7. S
8. S
W 8 L 0
Lead
H Q
S A
S K
S Q
S J
S 9
S 8
S 6
2nd
K!
2
H 4
H 5
H 6
H 7
H 8
H 9
3rd
10
C 7
C 8
C 9
C 10
C J
C Q
C K
4th
A!
4
5
7
10
C 2
C 3
C 4
S 2
H Q J 9 8 7 6 5 4
D K 9 7 6
C
Table S 10 7 5 4
H 10
D 3 2
C A 6 5 4 3 2
S A K Q J 9 8 6 3
H A 3
D 10 5 4
C

South next leads the S 3 (see ending at right) and West is squeezed. If he throws a diamond, the H 2 is thrown from dummy; then the lead of the D 10 wraps up four diamond tricks. If West instead discards his last heart, dummy throws a diamond; then the diamond finesse can be repeated using the H 3 as a reentry to hand. South
leads
S
H 2
D A Q J 8
C
S
H J
D K 9 7 6
C
Table S
H
D 3 2
C A 6 5
S 3
H 3
D 10 5 4
C

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© 1993 Richard Pavlicek