with DOUGLAS NEWLANDS
This hand revisits the theme of the apparent two-way finesse being a one-way finesse in reality. The auction is rather agricultural as North-South had no way of setting hearts as trumps and asking about slam suitability and 4NT, asking for aces, wouldn’t really help. North just bid what he hoped his mate, Rex, could make. A sophisticated pair might bid 3S over 2H and use it to artificially set hearts and use some cue bids to assess how they each felt about slam. The slam is not great since there is a deep loser in at least one minor and a finesse for the queen of trumps. Rex quickly won the 10S opening lead in hand and, deciding there was no clue as to which way to take the trump finesse, he ran the jack of hearts. When this lost to the queen, he now had no way to make the contract and was fortunate to be only one off for a close to average score since many went two of in a slam. Unlucky or another wrecked contract?
Pairs, NS vul, Dealer East
Rex, like many, cannot see past the trumps splitting 3-2. If some bridge deity assured you that trumps were 3-2 then Rex’s line is still wrong. Cashing either the ace or king first then trying to finesse the queen will save you from losing to some queen doubleton holdings. However, there are no nice bridge gods, only cruel ones, so we need to handle 4-1 splits as well. Even if Rex finds the singleton queen onside, he has to lose the fourth round of trumps to the nine! It is clearly better to play the king first and then finesse the jack. This picks up any singleton queen and avoids losing the fourth round to the nine. Despite Rex’s assertion, this is not a two way finesse and declarer should get this right as the cards lie. Having got trumps right, which minor do you play? If you play clubs and discard a diamond on the fourth round, you cannot ruff the two diamond losers. However, if you play diamonds and luckily find them 3-3 or QJ doubleton, you can discard a club and ruff South’s last spade for twelve tricks.