Main   Quiz 7H41 by Richard Pavlicek  

Which Finesse?

Each contract below has several finessing opportunities, but only one is correct on each hand.
Are you up to the task? (Assume you are playing IMPs)

Problem 1

3 NT South
E-W Vul
S K J 4
H K Q 5 4 3
D 4 3
C A Q 3
West

Pass
All Pass
North
1 H
3 C
East
Pass
Pass
South
2 C
3 NT
Lead: S 10TableEast plays S 6
S A Q 3 2
H A 10
D K J
C J 10 8 5 4

A. Win S K; H A; run H 10
B. Win S K; finesse H 10
C. Win S K; D 3 to jack
D. Win S Q; run C J


Solution

You have 8 top tricks, and the club suit offers great potential for more. But there is a danger ahead: If the club finesse loses, you can be sure a diamond will be returned; then if the A-Q are wrong (or you misguess), you are history.

Instead you should look for a safer line of play. Win the S J in dummy, lead heart and finesse the 10. If this wins, great. If it loses, your D K-J will be protected and the long heart in dummy will be good, barring the rare case of a singleton H J (or J-x-x-x-x) in West.

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Problem 2

3 NT South
None Vul
S A 4
H A Q 10 2
D K J 10 3 2
C 3 2
West

Pass
Pass
North

2 D
3 NT
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 S
2 NT
Lead: C 7TableEast plays C Q
S K J 10 3 2
H J 9 4
D A 5 4
C A 4

After winning the C A, what next?

A. Win D A; finesse D J
B. Win S A; finesse S J
C. Win S A-K; D A-K
D. Win D A-K; S A-K


Solution

You have 6 top tricks, and no less than three opportunities for 3 more. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you have only one club stopper; if you take just one losing finesse, the opponents will set you.

You should try to combine your chances. First cash the D A-K to see if the queen drops. No luck? Then cash the S A-K to try to drop that queen. Still nothing? As a last resort you will fall back on the heart finesse by leading the H 9 and letting it ride. Three chances are better than one!

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Problem 3

6 D South
E-W Vul
S A K J 3
H 6 5 3
D 9 8 7 6 5
C 5
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
North

1 S
3 D
4 NT
6 D
East

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 D
3 C
3 H
5 S
Lead: H JTableEast plays H 7
S 2
H A 8 4
D A Q J 10 3
C A Q J 2

You win the H A of course. What next?
(Sorry, the D K is not singleton)

A. Win D A; finesse S J
B. Win D A; S A-K; finesse C Q
C. Win S A-K; run D 9
D. Win S A-K; finesse C Q


Solution

A successful diamond finesse would see you home, but there are other things to consider. Note that a successful spade finesse would let you discard all your hearts. Or maybe a club finesse? If only you knew which finesse will work.

Ah, but you don’t know. The best way to combine your chances is to first cash the D A. There is a decent chance the king will drop. If not, take your second chance by leading a spade and finessing the jack. (You may want to close your eyes for that spade finesse.)

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© 1995 Richard Pavlicek