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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

 

Whichever guess is wrong!

 

For the less experienced

 

The right finesse is no finesse!

 

This is a story of two declarers. One was rather more successful than the other in their quest for 10 tricks. Indeed, while one declarer failed by one trick, the other made 12 tricks!

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North Deals
Both Vul

9 8 6 4 3

K J 7 2

8 5 4

7

 

 

   

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

A Q 10 5

Q 10

A Q 7

A K Q 6

 

 

 

West

North

East

South

 

Pass

Pass

2 ♣

Pass

2 

Pass

2 NT

Pass

3 ♣

Pass

3 ♠

Pass

4 ♠

All pass

 

 

 

 

3Club-small was Stayman with South very soon finding themselves in 4Spade-small. West led Heart-small5 to East’s ace. East switched to Diamond-small10 with declarer playing Diamond-smallQ to West’s Diamond-smallK. Back came Diamond-smallJ with West playing Diamond-small2. Where to from here? Plan the play.

Let’s hear the sad story first. It seemed a good idea to discard dummy’s remaining losing diamond. So, declarer played two top clubs. Then, anxious to get to dummy to take a trump finesse, they ruffed a club to play a low spade…to the? You know the feeling. You play Spade-small10 and lose to the jack or you play Spade-smallQ and lose to the king. When either happens, you want to get back to dummy for a second finesse and being uncertain that you can do that, lay down your Spade-smallA and find the other honour does not fall and that you have two trump losers to be one down!

The defence saved declarer that anguish. Our South chose to insert the Spade-smallQ losing to the Spade-smallK with West returning a third round of diamonds. Declarer ruffed as high as they could in dummy but that was not high enough as East over-ruffed with Spade-smallJ and the contract was one down. Unlucky? Not really.

Let’s take stock, perhaps even winding back the clock to trick 2 when East played Diamond-small10. While there is no guarantee, there was a strong likelihood that the finesse was going to fail, especially if East held a shortage in diamonds. South probably erred in playing Diamond-smallQ because there was another way, of playing the three, not just the two top clubs, discarding both of dummy’s diamonds. If one of those clubs did get ruffed, then that least was one of the defence’s trumps out of the way. Most of the time, though, both defenders will have to follow suit.

Not so fast!

If declarer did play three top clubs, they still had the problem of getting to dummy (presumably with a diamond ruff) and deciding which trump finesse to take. Both could be equally unsuccessful. So, which one do you take? The answer is neither! Indeed, even before you play one round of clubs, you should play the Spade-smallA!

 

North Deals
Both Vul

9 8 6 4 3

K J 7 2

8 5 4

7

K

9 5 4

K J 9 6 3

J 5 4 3

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

J 7 2

A 8 6 3

10 2

10 9 8 2

 

A Q 10 5

Q 10

A Q 7

A K Q 6

 

 

 

West

North

East

South

 

Pass

Pass

2 ♣

Pass

2 

Pass

2 NT

Pass

3 ♣

Pass

3 ♠

Pass

4 ♠

All pass

 

 

Suddenly, your plan change  SSuddenly your plan changes! You can play Club-smallA and ruff a club and then take the marked, 100% certain trump finesse against East’s Spade-smallJ. Even if West had some perverse reason to play Spade-smallK from Spade-smallKJ doubleton, a second round of trumps would see the defence with no more trumps. Yet, that is not the trump lay-out: the above would be the position.

After taking that trump finesse, you can play top clubs to discard losing diamonds from dummy and end up with two overtricks!

Note that even had South lost the diamond finesse in the problem we gave you, playing Spade-smallA is right even before playing any clubs. At that point if West holds Spade-smallKJx, it is not your lucky day and you will lose two trump tricks to be one down. At least, with two trumps out of the way, your problem of which trump to play should you lead one from dummy will be solved. Certainly, had East held Spade-smallKx and West Spade-small Jx, you have cost yourself an extra trick as you did not have to lose a trump trick. However, better to lose one trump trick than two unnecessarily and with it, the contract.

safety first 5.jpg

“Why did you not put me into slam?” our second declarer commented (in jest) to their partner after they had made 12 tricks! There was no need in that particular Teams match because 13 imps had already been gained by simply making their contract.

This deal came from the recent South Island Teams where most of the 48 declarers were in 4Spade-small. While 11 of the 48 made 12 tricks, 4 made only 9.

An annoying lead

Well, kind of in that a diamond lead would have given our declarer an 8th top trick and just needed a favourably placed Heart-smallQ for trick 9. However, Spade-small8 lead gave South only 7 top tricks. What’s the plan to make at least 9?

 

 

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

Richard Solomon

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