The com­pan­ion deal looks so sim­i­lar

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - CLASSIFIED­S - By Phillip Alder

In yes­ter­day’s col­umn, I men­tioned “On the Other Hand” by David Bird and Larry Co­hen (Mas­ter Point Press). It con­tains 100 pairs of deals. Each looks like an iden­ti­cal twin, but ac­tu­ally they are fra­ter­nal twins, each re­quir­ing a dif­fer­ent play tech­nique.

In today’s deal, South is in four spades. West leads the heart king. East, hop­ing his part­ner has only five hearts, over­takes with the ace and returns the eight. West wins with the jack and con­tin­ues with the queen. Af­ter ruff­ing, how should South con­tinue?

Today’s spade suit is iden­ti­cal to yes­ter­day’s club suit, when South was in six no-trump. Then, hav­ing lost one trick im­me­di­ately, de­clarer had to play the club suit with­out loss. The right play was a first-round fi­nesse, which won when one of the four low sin­gle­tons was off­side and lost only to a sin­gle­ton queen off­side.

Is it cor­rect to take a first-round spade fi­nesse here?

In the auc­tion, South’s bal­anc­ing two-spade jump over­call is not weak but in­ter­me­di­ate. It shows a re­spectable six- or seven-card suit and about a king more than a min­i­mum open­ing bid.

In isolation, a first-round fi­nesse is cor­rect. But bridge has sur­vived for so long be­cause you can rarely con­sider any prob­lem in isolation. You must take all of the known facts into ac­count.

Here, East passed over his part­ner’s open­ing bid, thus deny­ing 6 high-card points. But he has al­ready pro­duced the heart ace. He can­not also have the spade queen. South should cash his top spades and hope that the queen drops. If she doesn’t, part­ner over­bid again!

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