Puzzle 7F43   Main

# Tenuous Technique

by Richard Pavlicek

After a routine Stayman sequence, you end up in the world’s most common contract. Prospects are only fair, but the opening lead is generous, offering a free finesse to ensure eight tricks. Where there are eight, a great technician can usually produce nine.

 3 NT SouthNone Vul A 6 5 4 3 2 A Q 10 9 4 3 2 WestPassPass North2 3 NT EastPassAll Pass SOUTH1 NT2 J 10 A J 10 J 8 7 6 5 4 J 10 Q 9 8 7 K 9 8 7 3 Q 9 8 7 Lead: 6 K 3 2 Q 6 5 4 K 2 A K 6 5

First looks suggest East may be a squeeze victim, but this is easier said than done, because the count is not rectified. The opponents will not sit idly by, but attack your entries at every opportunity. To reduce the scope, assume a spade will be led if you give up the lead.

Are you up to the task?

## Solution

First, you must not accept the free finesse but win the K to unblock. Next duck a heart, not only to begin rectifying the count but to restrict the enemy communication.

 3 NT South A 6 5 4 3 2 A Q 10 9 4 3 2 Trick1 W2 S3 W4 W5 N6 W7 N Lead 6 4 J 10 3 4 A 2nd9104A!810 7 3rd32785 9 5 4thK723J25 W-LW1L1L2W2L3W3W4 J 10 A J 10 J 8 7 6 5 4 J 10 Q 9 8 7 K 9 8 7 3 Q 9 8 7 Lead: 6 K 3 2 Q 6 5 4 K 2 A K 6 5

Assume West wins the 10 and leads the J, which you duck; the next spade must be won with the ace, an unusual maneuver. Another heart is ducked to West’s jack (if West wins the A it will put even greater pressure on East). Assume West returns a diamond (best) won by the 10, then the A is cashed to reach this ending:

 NT win 5Success 6 5 — Q 4 3 2 Trick8 N9 S10 S11 W Lead 2! K 6 7 2nd8JAQ 3rdA3 4? 4th1099 W-LW1W2L1 — A J 8 7 J 10 Q K 9 — Q 9 8 North leads K Q 6 — A K 6 East is squeezed

Do not cash the Q! Next win the A-K to remove West’s exit cards, then lead a heart to West’s ace, pitching the club from dummy. West is now the stepping-stone to score the Q, on which East is triple-squeezed. A club or heart pitch gives you a trick in that suit with the K entry; or if East instead lets go the Q, you will jettison the K to leave dummy’s 6-5 high.

The defense I followed seemed the strongest, but there are many variations. Declarer can always succeed after the diamond opening lead. Curiously, either black-suit lead will defeat the contract, emphasizing the delicate timing and tenuous technique.

 Puzzle 7F43   Main Top   Tenuous Technique