Main     Puzzle 7F27 by Richard Pavlicek    

Perilous Pinochle

West’s unusual 2 NT bid (takeout for the unbid suits) may have propelled North-South into this precarious slam. North chose to bid aggressively because the heart finesse rated to work, but this may have been short-sighted. An offsetting factor was the likelihood of bad breaks, which suggests caution.

Problem
6 S S 10 9 8 2
H A Q
D A K Q 6
C K 7 6
N-S Vul

West

2 NT
Pass
All Pass


North
1 D
4 S
5 H


East
Pass
Pass
Pass


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

There you are! With the heart finesse on, you have 11 easy tricks by playing trumps correctly (ace then finesse). Your 12th trick might come from a ruff or perhaps a squeeze.

Assuming best defense, can you make 6 S? The good news is that you can see all four hands.

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Solution

The opening club lead foils any squeeze against West. Declarer must give up a trick to rectify the count, then another club lead will destroy the critical club entry.

Negotiating a successful ruff is not easy either. If declarer tries to ruff a heart in dummy, he will be overruffed. If he ruffs a club in his hand, he cannot pick up East’s S Q by finessing. Or can he?

The contract can be made with a loser-on-loser smother play. Win the C A, cash the S A and finesse the H Q. Run the S 10, which East must duck, else you can ruff a club for a 12th trick. Next cash all of North’s winners, and ruff a club in your hand.

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

From the ending at right, lead the H J to West’s king and discard the diamond from dummy. East cannot gain by ruffing his partner’s trick, so he discards the D J. The forced heart or club return is ruffed in dummy, and the S Q is hopelessly trapped. If East overruffs, South does also; if East underruffs, South discards. South
leads
S 9 8
H
D 6
C
S
H K 10
D
C J
Table S Q 7
H
D J
C
S K
H J
D 5
C

East hoped to win a trick with both the D J and S Q — a “pinochle” if you know the game. Alas, he had to throw the D J on partner’s heart, then watch his S Q disappear as well.

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© 1995 Richard Pavlicek