Bridge

WHICH FI­NESSE OR BOTH FINESSES?

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - by Phillip Alder

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!

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