The companion deal looks so similar
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!