BRIDGE

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - PUZZLES - with DOU­GLAS NEW­LANDS

The two-way fi­nesse is a con­cept that club play­ers have great dif­fi­culty with and this deal fea­tures a high stakes one. The auc­tion was hor­ri­ble. South opened a strong 1NT and North punted 6NT. What should have hap­pened was that North should have in­vited slam rather than guess­ing to bid it. Sim­plis­ti­cally, North should bid 4N and not 6NT. Even bet­ter would be to show the heart suit by trans­fer­ring and then bid­ding 4NT as in 1N-2D-2H-4N. This is ex­actly anal­o­gous to 1N-2D-2H-3N but just stronger. I re­alise many play this as some form of Black­wood but you re­ally should set hearts first for that auc­tion. Thus, 1N-3H-3N-4N should be RKC since 3H shows 6+ hearts and is forc­ing to game or bet­ter. So­phis­ti­cated play­ers may set hearts in other ways but it is im­por­tant that you have a way of set­ting hearts in your bid­ding sys­tem. Any­way, hav­ing reached 6N, poor old West is on lead. While I have some sym­pa­thy for lead­ing the ace of spades when the op­po­nents are bid­ding badly, it gives the con­tract too of­ten to be a com­fort­able strat­egy.

The heart lead is also scary so the search for a quiet lead set­tles on the mi­nors and was the 8C at the ta­ble. De­clarer heaves a silent sigh of re­lief at es­cap­ing the spade lead and can see seven mi­nor and five hearts tricks if he cor­rectly guesses the two way heart fi­nesse. For what­ever rea­son, he tries ace and another heart and is im­me­di­ately dead in the water. The im­por­tant thing to re­alise is that this is a two-way fi­nesse only if the hearts are 3-2. If the hearts are 4-1, there is only one side at which it can be picked up by fi­ness­ing af­ter a high hon­our has been cashed. That is, the de­fen­sive length has to be be­hind the de­clarer’s long hold­ing if you want to cash a high hon­our and fi­nesse (and it is the best way). So de­clarer should cash the king and run the ten of hearts and claim twelve tricks. The key point is that two-way fi­nesses are of­ten just one way fi­nesses when you con­sider a pos­si­ble 4-1 split since most of the time only one 4-1 split can be catered for.

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