“The more I play,” a club player grumbled, “the more I’m sure one of those Murphy’s Law corollaries is true: ‘If an action has a 50 percent chance of working, it will fail 75 percent of the time.’ ”
He had been declarer at four hearts. When West overcalled in diamonds, North’s cue bid substituted for the Stayman convention. West cashed two diamonds and led a trump, and South drew trumps. He next took the ace of spades and led to dummy’s jack. East won and led a club, and South’s finesse with the queen lost. Down one.
“Both finesses were 50-50 to win,” South sighed. “One would win three times out of four.”
South didn’t need to finesse in spades. On the second spade, he must play the dummy’s king. Say East plays low, and West wins the next spade. A finesse would have won, but South still makes game because West is end-played: He must lead a club from his king or concede a ruff-sluff.
As the cards lie, South succeeds when the queen of spades falls from East.
Daily Question: You hold: & 1085 h 8 5 ( AK9752 $ K 8. Your partner opens 1NT, and the next player passes. What do you say?
Answer: This is an elementary problem that bears repeating from time to time. Raise to 3NT. Your pattern is almost balanced, and your diamond suit should produce tricks at notrump. Once in a great while, your partner will go down at 3NT when your side could have made five diamonds, but the cheaper nine-trick game will succeed far more often.