Will this finesse or that finesse win?
How is a bridge finesse defined? I found this at dictionary.com: An attempt to win a trick with a card while holding a higher card not in sequence with it, in the hope that the card or cards between will not be played. That mouthful is correct. Almost every deal features at least one finesse, and some contracts may depend on a key finesse, or on which finesse is (finesses are) taken, or both.
In this deal, South is in six notrump, and West leads the club nine. What happens after that? What do you think of the bidding?
To consider the auction first, South believed that North’s four no-trump was Roman Key Card Blackwood in spades, so he showed three key cards (two aces and the spade king, or three aces). North had intended it as quantitative, inviting a slam. Discuss this with your partner. (I like to use four no-trump as quantitative, with four clubs as RKCB.)
South had 10 top tricks: four spades, one heart, one diamond and four clubs. To get two more tricks, he had four finesses available: two in hearts and two in diamonds. Which should he have taken? South had to hope either that East had the diamond king, or that West had at least one heart honor. The straight diamond finesse was a 50-50 shot, but the double heart finesse had a 76 percent chance of success. So, at trick two, South played a heart to dummy’s eight. East won with his king and shifted to a diamond, but declarer won with his ace and ran the heart 10. When that worked, he played a heart to dummy’s jack and claimed.