The tempting finesses are still haunting
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.