The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)
IN ESSENCE, A BACKWARD TECHNIQUE
“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,” the White Queen said to Alice.
If backward memory came from knowing the future, it would be helpful. Picking lottery and horse-race winners would prove lucrative. At the bridge table, usually one needs to think forward, but occasionally backward is the order of a deal — as in today’s.
After South’s one-heart overcall, North might have bid three no-trump — an easy contract here — or taken things more slowly by starting with a two-diamond cuebid.
West led his lowest diamond. East won the first three tricks before shifting to a low club. Declarer finessed, drew trumps and cashed the club ace, but the king didn’t drop. Now South had to avoid losing a spade trick. How would you normally play that spade combination?
Right — you would cash the king, just in case East had a singleton queen, and then finesse dummy’s jack. However, here that doesn’t work — and you should know it won’t.
You are missing only 13 highcard points, but East opened the bidding. So should you cash the ace and king, hoping to drop the queen? It is better, but not best.
As East is known to have started with two hearts and four diamonds, he is most unlikely to have begun with 2=2=4=5 distribution. He probably has three or four spades.
You should take a backward finesse. Enter dummy with a trump and lead the spade jack, forcing East to cover with the queen. Then finesse dummy’s nine on the way back.
A backward finesse, which requires two cards to be well placed, is usually worse than a simple finesse — but not always.