Stephen Cooper

WWDD [What Would DeepFinesse Do]

These days, there is a whole new category of analysis layered on to the post-mortem. Most of the time, the tipplers sharing your post-game stories can figure out the way to wring out the maximum trick total out of every hand. After all, they can see all the cards! Still, now and then, DeepFinesse silently taunts you with a quiet statistical observation – 3 can be made from the South side, or 1 is cold EW, but, despite group efforts, no solution is in sight.

My regular partner, Jordan, told me this story. It is from a sectional tournament in Toronto which took place early in the new calendar year of 2011. I was not a participant.

Let’s say you pick up: AQJxxxx, void, Axx, Axx. (Both Vul) Your partner opens 3, and RHO overcalls 4. For now, you decide that you might make game in your Major, so you bid that. For now. This is passed around to the overcaller, who now trots out a second suit -5! Not 4NT, which would suggest hearts, but a garden-variety, high level reverse. You decide that you should now show some support for partner, so you bid 6. LHO now comes to life with 6, which is passed around to you.

Let’s say you double – what would you lead?

Put that on the shelf for a minute, and let’s change partner’s pass over 6 to a 6call. (Or, maybe you bid it yourself, after partner’s forcing pass of 6. (Is it forcing?). You are now playing 6 on a Club lead….












Deep Finesse says you can make it. I guess it’s a double dummy problem, on the bidding? What kind of hand overcalls 4 and then comes back in with 5? Safe to assume he is void in both of the other two suits, and he was bidding his suits in natural order, longer first.

With a Club lead, can you make 6♠?



First, back to the lead problem. Note that you had better lead the Ace of clubs and give partner a ruff, or they will wrap up 6 (Which is what Jordan actualy did – he made 6x. But then he added – “We could not see how Deep Finesse makes 6!”)

As to the play in 6, here is a big clue if you have not yet solved it – I have not been totally honest with you. DeepFinesse actually says that it can only be made from the short side. Now can you make it?

That clue means that a trump lead will beat you. (Maybe a Diamond will beat you too – I’m not even going there; but the other guy has only hearts and clubs to choose from)

Got it? So you win the  club lead (A heart lead ends up the same), and ruff a club. Ruff a heart back to your hand, and lead a low diamond towards the dummy. This must be ducked or the slam makes easily. Use this entry to ruff a second heart. Now, ruff your last club with the King. This is a beautiful trick, indeed. You are setting up a trump trick for them, and, since he cannot give up a diamond or a spade, you force him to pitch an “idle” fourth heart on the third club. Now you ruff the third round of hearts in your hand, taking out his last heart, and draw trumps, throwing him in with the last trump to lead away from the Diamond King.

Now will you amend your bidding system to allow Spades to be played from the short side?

All Hail Deep Finesse.


GabrielleJanuary 10th, 2011 at 12:44 am

My problem with DeepFinesse is that its analysis is often not very relevant because it rarely reflects the field. Is it really all that useful to list which contracts are physically possible, given perfect defense and card play, when in real life hands rarely get played and defended in robot-style?

Larry LowellJanuary 13th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I agree, give me single dummy analysis or par analysis.

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