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

Mark Twain claimed: "Ne­ces­sity is the mother of tak­ing chances."

We have chances in bridge: for ex­am­ple, the chance that the con­tract will make. With fi­nesses, what are the chances that one, or one out of two, or one out of three will work?

In to­day's deal South has fi­nesses avail­able in all three side suits. How­ever, be­cause he is in a small slam, he can­not af­ford to take two that lose. How should he play in six hearts af­ter West leads a trump, and East fol­lows suit?

The bid­ding fol­lowed a mod­ern path. Two no-trump was the Ja­coby Forc­ing Raise, guar­an­tee­ing game-go­ing values with at least four-card heart sup­port. Four no-trump was Ro­man Key Card Black­wood. North's re­ply showed the trump queen and two key cards (two aces, or one ace and the trump king). Five no-trump an­nounced that all six key cards (four aces, the trump king and trump queen) were held and that South was think­ing about a grand slam. Six hearts de­nied a side-suit king.

De­clarer drew trumps end­ing on the board, then played a diamond to his queen. Sadly, it lost, and a diamond came back. Now South needed to max­i­mize his chances in the black suits. He won with his diamond ace, cashed the club king, played a club to the ace, dis­carded his last club on the diamond jack and ruffed a club. Here, the queen ap­peared to es­tab­lish dummy's jack, so the con­tract was home. But if the queen had not been seen, de­clarer would have crossed to dummy with a trump and tried the spade fi­nesse.

The per­cent­ages on those fi­nesses are ba­si­cally 50, 75 and 87.5.

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