Main     Column 7D50 by Richard Pavlicek    

Proper Timing Averts Finesse

The third annual Royal Viking Pairs will be held Tuesday evening at bridge clubs throughout North America. Great prizes, gold points, instant scoring, and a souvenir booklet (by yours truly) are the feature attractions. Check with your local club for participating sites and starting times. I can promise you some exciting deals (sorry, no previews) like today’s deal from last year’s event.

4 H S Q 10 6
H J 7 5 2
D K 10
C K 9 8 4
N-S Vul

West

Pass
Pass


North
Pass
2 C
4 H


East
Pass
Pass
All Pass


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

The diagrammed bidding probably occurred thousands of times (considering 30,000 participants). South has a routine one-notrump opening, and North uses the Stayman convention to check for a major-suit fit. When South shows a four-card heart suit, North goes right to game (though a case can be made for raising to just three hearts).

The play provides a good lesson in timing. Assume West leads a diamond; 10, ace; and East returns a diamond to dummy’s king. Some players would lead a trump to the king, noting East’s play of the 10, then then cash the ace hoping for queen-10 doubleton. Too bad; but nothing was lost since West held a natural trump trick all the time.

Or was something lost? Believe it! Declarer gave up control in the trump suit too soon. As the cards lie, declarer can still succeed because the spade finesse works (ruff a diamond in dummy, etc.), but this is an undeserved fortune.

After winning the diamond king at trick two, a better play is to lead a spade to the king. Assume West wins the ace and returns a spade (good defense). Win the spade queen, lead a heart to the king, and cash the diamond queen to discard a spade.

Next cash the ace and king of clubs and ruff a club with the nine of hearts. When West is able to overruff, it is apparent that East’s heart 10 was a singleton. I will leave it to the reader to verify that declarer can win the rest of the tricks.

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© 9-17-1989 Richard Pavlicek