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New To The Table. The Play of the Hand.

The Defender You Do NOT Want on Lead.

So much for all that talk about “4th Suit Forcing” on Friday. We have been left to make 3NT. If we had been able to call 2spades as our second bid in the sequence below, it would be our partner’s problem!

No time for such thoughts. Here we are to play to trick 2!

North Deals
N-S Vul
9
A 9
A K 6 5 2
K 9 7 5 3
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
K 10 7 2
Q 7 5 4 3
3
A J 10
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  

 

 West led the Spade-small3 and East played Spade-smallJ. It seems a good idea to win this with your king. You need at least 8 more tricks.

Let’s count winners. We have one in spades, one for sure in hearts, two in diamonds and two in clubs. We need three more tricks which have to come from either hearts or clubs.

To make more tricks in hearts, we have to lose the lead to Heart-smallK and if West held that card, we are unlikely, indeed pretty impossible, not to have to lose a second heart trick as well. Even if East held Heart-smallK, we would need the heart suit to break evenly, 3-3 in the opponents’ hands, to come to 9 tricks….and then there is the little problem of how many spade tricks the opponents can take before we can set up the heart suit. Let’s forget about the heart suit for now.

The club suit is more straightforward. If we can take a successful finesse against the Club-smallQ, we will have 5 club tricks, one in spades, Heart-smallA and Diamond-small AK…9 tricks. If the finesse fails, we will have trouble coming to 9 tricks though there is still a chance we might make a second trick in spades.

So, our plan will be to take the club finesse. Easy! Yet we can take it either by leading Club-smallJ(because we hold the Club-small10)and running it if West plays low  or playing low from dummy towards the jack. Which should we do? Is it a pure guess?

In a way it is but in such a situation, think about which opponent you would less like losing to if the finesse fails. The answer here is West because it is much easier for East to continue spades to your detriment than for South:

North Deals
N-S Vul
9
A 9
A K 6 5 2
K 9 7 5 3
A Q 8 6
10 6 2
Q10 8 4
8 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
 J 5 4 3
K J 8
J 9 7
Q 6 4
 
K 10 7 2
Q 7 5 4 3
3
A J 10
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  

 

If West held the Club-smallQ, the defence would be harder. They would not know how many spades South held and may try to cash some spade tricks even though they should know from East’s Spade-smallJ at trick 1 that South held Spade-small10. (from Spade-smallJT, East would always play Spade-small10.)

So, our plan was to get to dummy and play a club to the jack. Best play a diamond where you have two holds to reach dummy and take your club finesse. It works!

You could repeat the finesse with a club to the 10 but you have only one more entry to dummy and you would need two as the Club-smallA on the third round would leave you stranded in your own hand. (planning is a wonderful thing.) So, when your Club-smallJ scores, play Club-smallA and breathe a sigh of relief when both opponents follow. You can then overtake Club-small10 with the king and play off your remaining two club tricks, along with Diamond-smallK and Heart-smallA…nine tricks, no sweat (well, not much!).

By wishing the Club-smallQ was in a certain hand (or identifying which was the “danger hand”),

Danger hand.jpg

you took the finesse the right way. You were rewarded for a piece of good planning. Your partner will be impressed! “Magic” you could say if they asked why you played that way. Not quite true but wishing made it so!

Richard Solomon

The concept of identifying a danger hand is an important one when you can take a finesse through either opponent. In the example above, had the finesse lost, you could not guarantee 9 tricks but it would make it harder for the opponents to defend correctly.

 

 

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