Suicide Winkle at the Coffee Shop
Service was terrible at the local coffee shop after the sectional. On the bright side, that allowed plenty of time to analyze the hands. Partner played this 3NT:
We bid to 3NT, East's having doubled Stayman along the way. West led the 9. Partner won the Q, and (questionably) fired the 3 toward dummy. East ducked and declarer took eleven tricks. At the time the hand didn't seem all that remarkable, but at dinner we saw that the Deep Finesse analysis showed you can make 4NT from South but 5NT from North. We decided to use our time to figure this out.
Holding South to 10 tricks is pretty easy. West leads a spade through the ace and the defensive position is flexible enough to prevail. It seems as if a similar defense might work vs. North but it just isn't so.
East must lead a spade or the hand is over immediately. If East leads the Q, declarer can simply win the spade, finesse the club and strip squeeze West.
So East must lead a low spade and West must play the J to prevent East from being later endplayed with the Q. The natural line is to win the A, finesse the club and run the diamonds. That produces the following 6 card ending:
South cashes the 2 and West must discard a heart, as must North. East discards the "idle" heart (somewhere along the line he must). South then exits with A and 3. West wins the K but the defense is winkled. The best the defense can hope for is to exit with the last heart as East unblocks the Q. This would be successful if West held the 8, as dummy would be endplayed.
Notice that East really is squeezed. If he could hold onto the third heart, West could win the K and lead a low spade to the Q - and East could then endplay dummy with the third heart.
The endplay winkle is an unusual ending, which would have gone unnoticed if not for Deep Finesse and extraordinarily bad service at the coffee shop.
Copyright © 2006 Mike Shuster