Main     Column 7B09 by Richard Pavlicek    

Endplay Avoids Losing Finesse

Joe Rogers of Ft. Lauderdale displayed some fine technique on today’s deal, which recently occurred in a duplicate tournament at the Pompano Beach Bridge Club.

After Rogers, South, opened one notrump, North’s two-heart response was the Jacoby transfer bid, showing at least five spades. South obligingly bid two spades and North continued with three diamonds, indicating a two-suited hand. Lacking good support for spades, South wisely signed off in three notrump.

3 NT S J 10 5 4 3
H J 7
D K Q 8 6 5
C 2
None Vul

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass


North

2 H
3 D


East

Pass
Pass


South
1 NT
2 S
3 NT
S K 9 8 6
H 10 8 6 3
D J 2
C K 9 3
Table S Q 2
H A Q 2
D 10 9 4
C J 10 8 6 4
Lead: H 3 S A 7
H K 9 5 4
D A 7 3
C A Q 7 5

Based on the bidding, West elected to lead the heart three and East won the ace. The heart queen was ducked, and a third heart was won by declarer’s king as dummy shed a spade. Assuming the diamonds divided three-two, declarer had eight easy tricks and it looked as though the contract would depend on the club finesse.

On the run of the diamonds, Rogers discarded two clubs from his hand. The opponents also had to find discards — West threw a club and two spades; East threw a club and a spade (the latter proved to be an error).

Rogers noticed that three spades had been discarded and he devised a foolproof plan for his ninth trick. Instead of taking the club finesse, he led the spade jack to his ace and exited with the heart nine to West’s 10. After cashing the spade king, West was forced to return a club into declarer’s ace-queen.

It is apparent that East-West could have foiled declarer’s plan — East must keep two spades, then West could unblock the spade king under South’s ace to avoid the endplay. Nevertheless, hindsight is always easier than foresight, so Rogers deserves full credit for his fine play.

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© 6-10-1984 Richard Pavlicek