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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Abnormal or Normal.

One day, there will be a story written about a bridge deal where the right action is to take a finesse, just like we teach to our beginners. Half the time you are successful and the other half, you hope the opponents will misdefend! So, is today the day of that story?

Board 17
South Deals
None Vul

10 7 5

J 7

A Q J 8 5 4 2

4

   

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

A Q 8

K 10 5 3

9 7 6

A J 3

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

1 NT

Pass

3 NT

All pass

 

 

1NT was 12-14 and North had their mind set on 9 quick tricks as they ended the auction swiftly. “Lead a major” is the normal cry after such an auction and if West had led either, South would have had a relatively comfortable ride to 9 tricks whoever was holding that Diamond-smallK.

However, West had not read that particular script because the lead was Club-small5 with East contributing the king. You could politely recommend to West that they should lead a major suit to that bidding. You would allow them an “undo” but West decided despite your advice, they would stick with their original choice.sealed

So, how would you play…and when you inevitably test the diamond suit, West neither shows out nor plays Diamond-smallK but contributes the miserable Diamond-small3!

To state the obvious, you need to score at least 6 diamond tricks without losing the lead to East. Assuming West has the Club-smallQ, which West’s play of Club-smallK at trick 1 implies, you had a choice at trick 1, either winning the lead and playing to keep East off lead, or else duck and hope if the finesse loses that East has no more than three clubs and that West does not hold the Heart-smallA.

While the latter is a possibility, a 5-4 club break is much more common than a 6-3 or 7-2 break..and even then if West did have the Heart-smallA, you may still go down.

So, taking the Club-smallA at trick 1 seems more normal. However, where is that Diamond-smallK? If East has Diamond-smallKT doubleton, nothing can be done. If West has all three of the defence’s diamonds or K3 doubleton, you will be very glad you played Diamond-smallJ.  No spade finesse as you return to hand for the second finesse if needed (you do not know where Heart-smallA is)…a sigh of relief that you will make your contract.

There is another option:

Board 17
South Deals
None Vul

10 7 5

J 7

A Q J 8 5 4 2

4

K 6 2

A Q 6

10 3

Q 8 7 6 2

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

J 9 4 3

9 8 4 2

K

K 10 9 5

 

A Q 8

K 10 5 3

9 7 6

A J 3

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

1 NT

Pass

3 NT

All pass

 

 

Percentage-wise, finessing is still the better option even though once West has played the small diamond, two possibilities have gone, singleton king in the West hand and East having all 3 diamonds. Chances of dropping the singleton king in the East hand, originally 13% have increased a little while you will still survive by playing the ace if West has both Diamond-smallK and Heart-smallA…though these options are not as good as a first-round finesse.

If you lay down the ace and no Diamond-smallK appears, you have nothing better to do than play a second diamond. If East signals for a heart switch on the second round of diamonds, then just hope that your partner is understanding of your line. If West holds that Heart-smallA, then West has to give you a 9th trick no matter which suit you played.

On this day, it did not matter who held the Heart-smallA. You had your 9 tricks by playing Diamond-smallA on the first round but were quickly defeated by finessing. The odds do still favour the finesse but you will still make half the time West has 2 or 3 diamonds. West has Diamond-smallKx or Kxx 37% of the time and half that time has Heart-smallA. That’s about 18.5% of the time and adding on the 13% for the singleton king in East’s hand, you have over 31% success for cashing the ace.

today is the day.jpg

So, we have a deal where finessing is technically correct and yet practically wrong! Oh, if you finessed, there will be more successful deals to come.

Safeguarding your Game

4Heart-small bid and made. Well, the first part has been achieved. Part two to come.

North Deals
None Vul

Q J 9 8

K 8 5 3

A K J 6

2

   

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

A K 7 4

A 9 6 4

5 4

J 8 6

 

West

North

East

South

 

1 

Pass

1 

Pass

3 

Pass

4 

All pass

 

 

 

 

The lead is Club-smallK and followed by Diamond-small7 switch.

Richard Solomon

 

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