T he theme this week is testing your chances in the right order.
On our first deal, you duck West’s King of hearts opening lead, then the Queen that follows, and win the Knave of hearts with the Ace, throwing a Club from dummy and seeing east throw a Spade. What now?
At the table, declarer led a Club to the Queen, which looks to be the routine play, as, clearly, you need east (not West with his hearts) to hold the Ace. east wins and switches to a Spade. Do you finesse?
You have eight winners, via a Spade, a heart, three Diamonds and three promoted Clubs. You have two chances of a ninth: the Queen of Spades via a successful finesse or a three-three Diamond switch. A finesse is a better chance than a three-three split, so declarer finessed the Queen.
No good—west won the King and cashed the nine-four of hearts. Down two. Unlucky.
Or was it? The point is that declarer reached a position in which he was forced to guess: spade finesse or Diamond split? he didn’t need to put himself in that position.
Before he leads a Club, he should cash the three top Diamonds. If the suit has split three-three, he knows that he doesn’t need the Spade finesse. If the Diamonds split four-two, he knows the Spade finesse is a necessary risk. If Diamonds split five-one, he finds out on the second round and doesn’t play the third top card.
here, Diamonds split threethree. he cashes dummy’s lucky 13th Diamond, forces out the Ace of Clubs, rises with the Ace on east’s Spade return and cashes his Clubs. Nine tricks and game made.
Our second deal comes from the South African Nationals.
West led the three of hearts to the ten and declarer’s Knave. At trick two, declarer led the Queen of Diamonds. West won the Ace and led a second low heart (best). Declarer won in hand and could count eight winners: two Spades, two hearts and four Clubs.
The question was whether to try for his ninth trick by leading a second Diamond towards dummy’s nine, hoping West held the ten, or take the Spade finesse, over to the Ace and back to the Knave.
It was a pure guess and, in practice, declarer tried a Diamond to the nine. No good—east could win the ten, cash the King then lead over his third heart. West won the Ace and cashed his long heart—down one.
Declarer needs to discover whether the finesse against the ten of Diamonds is winning, so he knows whether to try for his ninth trick in Diamonds or in Spades. Bernard Donde showed the way.
After winning trick one with his Queen of hearts, at trick two, Mr Donde led a low Diamond (rather than the autopilot Queen) to dummy’s nine. east won the ten and led a second heart, West ducking and letting dummy’s King win.
Declarer now knew Diamonds were a dead loss and that his ninth trick would have to come from Spades. he cashed the four Clubs, crossed to the Ace of Spades and led a second Spade to his Knave.
The finesse was successful and the King of Spades scored his ninth trick. Game made.