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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

Finessing is Fun

Yes, it can be. Trust me. They do work sometimes. Indeed, sometimes, well maybe all the time, you really hope they work. Let’s see how many finesses you need on the following board. If they all fail, you could be in serious trouble!

West Deals
None Vul
K 10 5 4
A Q J
A J 10 6
K 2
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
A J 8 3
9 7
9 3 2
Q 8 7 6
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 4  All pass  

 

West leads the Club-small3 which goes to dummy’s Club-small2, East’s Club-small10 (why no ace? It would be more helpful!) and your Club-smallQ. There is a trump finesse which you can take either way, a heart finesse which you can take twice and a couple of diamond finesses. What’s your normal success rate? “0% or 25% on a good day.”?

Our declarer decided the best way to avoid losing a finesse was not to take one! They played  a spade to the king and a second spade to the ace. Everyone followed twice but no queen appeared. Next came a heart to the jack which scored (that’s it for a good day… 1 out of 4!) but then declarer realised they were in trouble. They exited Club-smallK which went to the ace. The Spade-smallQ was cashed to be followed a third club and once more stuck in dummy, two diamonds were lost for one down. Take a look at the four hands.

West Deals
None Vul
K 10 5 4
A Q J
A J 10 6
K 2
7 2
K 6 5 4 3
K 8 4
J 4 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q 9 6
10 8 2
Q 7 5
A 10 9 5
 
A J 8 3
9 7
9 3 2
Q 8 7 6
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 4  All pass  

 

You could have had an unheard of 80% success rate. Let’s go back to trick 2. With heart and diamond finesses to take from the South hand, you do not want to waste the  limited entries you have to your own hand by taking a spade finesse the same way.

So, take a finesse which you really do not mind losing, the heart finesse. It will give you a discard for one your minor cards if it loses. Yet, it works! Now what? Lose what you have to lose. Exit the Club-smallK. Maybe the defence will take a finesse for you?

No, they exit a third club which you ruff in dummy. It would be good to have three trump entries to our hand. So, use that power of positive thinking. Play Spade-smallK and a spade to the jack. There’s no danger in doing that.

Look up. The jack did win the trick! Honestly. Successful finesse number 2. What next? You could ruff your remaining small club but that would leave you stuck in dummy with only red cards and a trump outstanding (the queen).

So, repeat that heart finesse (East was not being clever in holding back the king.) Finesse number 3 worked!

It would be reasonable now to play the Heart-smallA and discard your Club-small8. Now play dummy’s trump to your ace….and you turn your attention to diamonds. You hope the defence’s honours are split or that West has them both. Play a diamond to the 10 which loses. East plays their last club which you ruff.

You are left with Diamond-smallAJ in dummy and two little diamonds in your own hand. You have 9 tricks and lead towards dummy. Don’t panic. On the third round of trumps and fourth round of clubs, West had to discard and they had to throw the two remaining hearts to protect their Diamond-smallK. So, by trick 12, there are neither any hearts nor any clubs left in the defenders’ hands. You can safely take a second diamond finesse…and when it works, you have made 11 tricks and have taken 4 successful finesses! That’s better than going one down.

Yes, a bad trump break or some badly placed red suit honours would have made this board awkward. There is nothing better you can do than hope the defence’s honours are where you want them….and make sure you take advantage of the 50% of times they are!

Think positive.png

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

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