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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

      A Finesser’s Dream…or Nightmare?

You have finesses available in three suits, one of which is a 2-way finesse (don’t we love them…not!) and a guess in the fourth suit, too. We cannot afford too many failing finesses or wrong guesses because we are in small slam. Looking at the cards below, how many finesses do you think a declarer needed to take in order to make the slam?

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

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

 

After the strong 1NT opening, 3 was a natural slam try. 3NT was a waiting bid and both 4-level minor bids were cue-bids. 5 showed 2 key-cards but no Q. West leads 3.

You did notice West’s double, didn’t you? So, you put up the Q at trick 1 with East following with J. Over to you.

The double of 4♣ did at least alert you to the correct play at trick 1. Surely, West has led away from the ♣K? So, up with the queen and it holds, with East curiously contributing that jack. A signal? Probably not.

You can now discard one of your losers on the ♥K, probably the club. You still then have to decide on whether to take the diamond finesse (and who do you finesse for the queen?) or take the heart finesse and then have two discards thus avoiding having to take the diamond finesse. Also, there was the small matter of the ♠K as well!

So, what to do? Our declarer did not take any finesses and made the contract! The spade finesse was extremely dangerous because if it lost, you would almost certainly be defeated very quickly by a second club and a ruff.

Thus, South decided to play a spade to the ace and then a second spade. It was a bit frustrating when East held the ♠K but the really good news was that East had only two spades. Why was that such good news? Take a look:

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

 

2 spades and 1 club meant that East was left with only red cards. With a heart continuation absolutely out of the picture, East switched to a diamond in desperation but that solved South’s red suit problems with a claim being immediate. Note that had East held ♠Kxx, declarer would have to take the right finesse to make their contract, whichever that was!

That ♣J was a very revealing card and alerted South not just to the danger of a ruff but also to the safe winning line. It would have been harder had East’s singleton been a smaller club.

On the lay of the cards above, a declarer can take both spade and heart finesses successfully and score an overtrick. Without the ♣J alarm bell, South might take the heart finesse first and if successful, safety play trumps by playing the ace first.

safety first 6.png

There was no real danger from the actual lie of the cards though perhaps any declarer who made an overtrick after the club play at trick 1 as described was not taking the best line to secure their slam. Even playing Pairs, you should ensure your contract first before risking the overtrick.

Jan’s Day: More on Finessing

That could be a clue but make a plan to score 12 tricks from your rather ambitiously bid slam.

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

 

1NT was 12-14 and 3♠ sought further information. The only information you got was that the opposition had plenty of spades. So, go for gold and partner very considerately held no wasted spade values. The lead was a small spade from West.

Richard Solomon

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