Quiz 7J46   Main

Look Mom! No Finesses!

  by Richard Pavlicek

As South on each of these contracts you have several finessing opportunities, yet the proper play
involves taking none of them. Are you ready for these unfinessable tasks?

Problem 1

3 NT South
None Vul
S 6 3 2
H 7 6
D 9 8 7 4 3
C 8 5 2

All Pass

2 D

2 C
3 NT
Lead: S JTableEast plays S Q
S A K 5 4
H K 5
D A K Q 6 5

A. Win S A-K; D A-K-Q-9-8; lead S 6
B. Win S A; D A-K-Q; S K; lead S 4
C. Win S A; D A-K-Q; lead S 4
D. Duck the first trick


You have eight top tricks, and a successful finesse in hearts or clubs will give you nine. Ha! Finesses are for kids. The first trick makes it obvious that West has four or five spades, and this information gives you a lock.

Win the first trick, cash three top diamonds (but no more), cash your remaining top spade, and exit with a spade. As West runs his spades pitch two clubs from dummy and a diamond from your hand. Whatever West leads next will give you your ninth trick.

West held: S J-10-9-8-7 H A-J-8-2 D 2 C K-7-3

Quiz 7J46   MainTop   Look Mom! No Finesses!

Problem 2

4 S South
E-W Vul
S J 10 4 3
H A Q 10 9 2
D 9 4
C Q 7
1 D
1 H
4 S
Lead: C K
then C A
TableEast plays C 2
then C 3
S A K 9 8 7 6 5 2
H 4 3
D K 10

A. Ruff with S 2; S A; finesse H Q
B. Ruff with S 5; S A; finesse H Q
C. Ruff with S 5; H A; S A; lead H 4
D. Discard a heart


Did you ruff the second club? If so, you can’t establish the heart suit without letting East on lead, then a diamond shift through your king beats you. The key to deny East the lead is a loser-on-loser play.

On the second club pitch a heart. Assume West shifts to a heart; win the ace, and ruff a heart with the S K (no need to risk an overruff). Draw the outstanding trump, then dummy has three spade entries to establish and enjoy the long heart. Note that you must use your S 2 wisely to reach dummy’s four.

West held: S Q H 7-6 D A-J-8-7-6 C A-K-8-6-5

Quiz 7J46   MainTop   Look Mom! No Finesses!

Problem 3

5 D South
None Vul
S A K J 5
H J 4 3
D K 4 3 2
C A 2

1 NT
2 S
4 D
5 C
5 D
All Pass
2 C
3 D
4 H
Lead: C QTableEast plays C 9
S 4 3 2
H A 10 5
D A Q J 10 8 7
C 3

You win the C A and D Q-J-10 as East
discards C 5 C 6 H 2. What next?

A. Win S A-K; ruff C 2; lead S 4
B. Win S A-K; lead C 2 pitch S 4
C. Win S A; ruff C 2; finesse S J
D. Win S A; ruff C 2; duck spade


Yes, 3 NT would be a better contract, but you were trying for slam and wisely stopped short. You have lots of chances with the spade and heart finesses (plus spades might split 3-3). No thanks! Only a neat endplay will cinch 11 tricks.

Win the C A, draw three rounds of trumps (saving the D K as an entry to dummy) and cash both top spades. Next lead the C 2 and — sound the trumpets — pitch a spade. No matter who wins or which suit is returned, there is no layout of the cards that can defeat you.

West held: S 9-8 H K-8-7 D 9-6-5 C Q-J-10-7-4

Quiz 7J46   MainTop   Look Mom! No Finesses!

© 2001 Richard Pavlicek