Which finesse or both finesses?
Stacy Keach said, “I can’t think of anything that requires more finesse than comedy, both from a verbal and visual point of view.” In bridge, everyone is taught how to finesse very early, and -- no joke -- almost everyone, especially below the expert level, loves to finesse. But do you know anyone who was warned that unless the contract is on the line, not to finesse when the failure of that finesse would result in more tricks being lost than if the finesse had never been taken? Today, South is faced with two minor-suit finesses. Which should he take, if any, in either six no-trump or seven no-trump after West leads the spade jack to declarer’s ace?
North’s weak-two opening promised a good six-card suit and 6-10 high-card points. South, wishing to protect his ace-queen minor-suit holdings at trick one, jumped to six no-trump.
South starts with 11 top tricks: three spades, six hearts, one diamond and one club. To get a guaranteed 12th trick is easy: Cross to dummy with a heart and run the diamond jack. Even if the finesse loses, declarer gets a second diamond trick to bring his total up to 12. In seven no-trump, though, South seems to have a choice -- but he doesn’t. If the club finesse is winning, that only gets him up to 12 tricks. Declarer needs to assume that the diamond finesse is working. Then he gets three diamond tricks and 13 in all. If you are thinking about contracting for a grand slam that needs a finesse to work, bid it when the finesse is winning and do not bid it when the finesse is losing!