Double Dummy 01

Double Dummy Fun - Deep Finesse at its best

From Monday 20/11/23 at X-Clubs
Board 6 Dealer E EW Vul


This was the bidding at most tables:


You are WEST. You have “Deep Finesse” as your partner sitting East. How will you defend, from the opening lead right through to the end?

Firstly, and most importantly, we have to find the best opening lead. It might be tempting to lead the normal ‘fourth highest’ heart, but stop and think: that will require partner to have the queen. Unlikely. Maybe start with the ace of clubs and get a look at dummy to get an idea? No, not a good idea because that may give declarer the time to set up club tricks. South did open 1C in the first place. No, only a heart lead makes sense (as it happened the CA lead worked well and the continuation was made much easier than the opening lead). But the low heart lead will almost certainly give a trick away to the queen. What is declarer likely to hold in hearts? Surely the ace, maybe queen as well. But what about dummy? Dummy could well have a singleton heart. What if that singleton is the queen or the ten?

West can now see the answer: if you lead a heart, lead the KING. Bingo! Dummy decks with the singleton queen and the very imposing long diamond suit. But there is some hope, partner may have the ace or king of diamonds.

As you can see, if declarer wins the first heart and East gains the lead later, a heart (the EIGHT) through declarer will kill the contract, so declarer must duck. East in the meantime has signalled discouragement, so West now needs to find a switch. West assesses the situation and can see that if the diamonds are set up with only one loser, and declarer surely has the ace or king, then there is no chance for the defence, unless.... East has not encouraged hearts and cashing the clubs is not going to help (but West might try the CK and would then get a discouraging signal from East), so the only thing West can do is try to attack the entries to dummy. There is only one, the king of spades, and declarer will need that for when diamonds are established.

So, as a last resort, West switches to the three of spades, lowest from an honour so that East knows the score. Luckily for West, declarer has only two spades, so can not afford to win the jack, which will block off access to dummy, and must win the ace. Now, declarer plays ace and another diamond and East wins the king. Instead of returning West’s original lead, East plays a spade. West’s three has told East the story. Declarer wins in dummy and can now run the remaining diamonds but...... West discards all his hearts and keeps the two top clubs and the queen of spades. Declarer, in the meantime, has lost one diamond and the opening king of hearts. The heart loser at trick one when West led the king was forced, as indeed was the rest of the play. Declarer could count nine tricks but no way was the ‘double dummy’ Deep Finesse defence going to allow declarer to take the ninth, the ace of hearts! In chess terms, this was a forced check mate, with the defenders dictating every move by declarer from the start.

Double Dummy problems can be challenging, instructive, and fun. This one was indeed a superb rarity. Isn’t bridge a wonderful game?