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Finesse Missed

This deal from an IMP team match was bid to 6 H at one table, easily making. At the second table the above auction occurred. The first five bids were natural, then 4 C and 4 H were ace-showing. South was concerned about the quality of his hearts, so he took a reasonable stab at 6 NT expecting the D 10 to be a useful card in establishing partner’s suit. Alas, it wasn’t.

6 NT by South

None Vul
S A K 4 2
H A 8
D A Q 7 4 3 2
C 2
S 9 6 5
H Q 7 4
D J 6
C Q J 10 8 4
TableS 10 8 7 3
H J 10
D K 9 8
C 9 7 6 5
Lead: C QS Q J
H K 9 6 5 3 2
D 10 5
C A K 3

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North
1 D
2 S
3 D
4 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
2 NT
4 C
6 NT

South won the club lead and had to decide which red suit to develop. Either suit required a 3-2 break, but diamonds also required a finesse; so declarer wisely chose the hearts. A heart to the ace, back to the king, then a third heart was conceded to West as North threw a diamond and East signaled with the D 9.

West shifted to the D 6 (clever not wasting his jack) and declarer was cooked. If he finessed he would be down immediately, so he hopped with the ace. Then he crossed to the S Q and won all the hearts and the C K. East simply kept the same last three cards as dummy, and with spades blocked declarer was down one.

It would not help to unblock spades early because that suit provides the only entry to South’s hearts. But there was a neat solution: On the first round of hearts declarer could finesse the eight — an avoidance play to prevent the killing diamond shift. Now the entries are available to cash all your tricks. Try it.

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© 1999 Richard Pavlicek