The tempt­ing fi­nesses are still haunt­ing

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL SPORTS SIGHTS OF CECIL - By Phillip Alder

Robert Half, who founded the hu­man re­source con­sult­ing firm that bears his name, said, “When one teaches, two learn.” That is true if a teacher or colum­nist an­a­lyzes his work. A good ed­u­ca­tor or writer should be his own harsh­est critic. So far, this week’s deals have fea­tured two pos­si­ble fi­nesses, and the de­ci­sion was which, if ei­ther, to take. Here is an­other. South is in four spades. Af­ter West leads the club king to dummy’s ace, what should de­clarer do?

South has a min­i­mum two-club open­ing bid, but op­po­site a 3-33-4 Yar­bor­ough, he could win nine tricks. North, with an ace, is right to raise to three spades, not give a dou­ble neg­a­tive. De­clarer has four po­ten­tial losers: one spade, two hearts and one di­a­mond. He is in the dummy for the last time and should take a ma­jor­suit fi­nesse, but which one?

If the cho­sen fi­nesse loses, the con­tract will prob­a­bly be im­pos­si­ble to make. But sup­pose it wins -- then what? If South takes a suc­cess­ful trump fi­nesse, he can cash the spade ace. If the king drops, fine; if not, though, he will surely lose those four tricks. The chance of king-sin­gle­ton or king-dou­ble­ton in hearts is low (a pri­ori, just un­der 10 per­cent). How­ever, what hap­pens if de­clarer takes a win­ning heart fi­nesse? He can con­tinue with the spade ace and spade queen, and surely take 10 tricks: five spades, two hearts, two di­a­monds and one club. So, strange though it might feel, it is right to fi­nesse in the shorter and weaker suit.

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