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Seek better options before falling back on finesses

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Figure 1
Figure 2

Not a lot of news to report on the local scene as all the bridge remains online. We are, hopefully, inching towards normality and may soon see a return to the live games for those that are fully immunised – so apply for your vaccination certificate and Safekey as that may be required for physical attendance.

I got mine yesterday which was very pleasing until I saw that I was described as “female” – not sure how the news got out as the operation is not until next month. You can tell from all of this that I am struggling for things to say!

You will have divined by now that I am not a fan of finesses unless they are absolutely unavoidable – quite often a hand will provide other, better, chances of success and those should be explored before falling back on an available finesse.

Very often finesses are unavoidable, particularly in the trump suit, but even then one must look at the bigger picture before rushing into the ‘obvious’ play. With that in mind, look at today’s hand which came up on BBO last week (see Figure 1).

West, on my left, opened 1 club, double by partner (she is just a bit too strong for a 1NT overcall which would show 16-18), pass by East and I bid one spade. Pass by West and partner jumped to 4 spades which is a bit aggressive as I could have zero points, but I actually like the bid as even with a very weak hand where I have 5 or 6 spades must give 4 spades a chance of making.

West led the diamond Ace and then switched to the club queen which starts to expose declarer to a club loser. I can guarantee that the next play by most would be the spade finesse, so I want you to rewind and think before playing to trick 3.

Firstly, the chances of the spade finesse working is close to …..zero! West has opened the bidding, usually showing 13 plus high card points, and between you and dummy you can count 25 HCP, leaving only 15 for East-West. Without the spade King West will have opened a flat 11/12 point hand – possible but highly unlikely.

Look what happens if you take the spade finesse and it loses – West continues a club and you end up losing a spade, two diamonds and a club for down one.

For the full hand, see Figure 2.

How do you see the right play? Win the club, play a spade to the Ace as it is the only quick entry to your hand, and lead a diamond.

West has to win and now you have a parking spot for your losing club and the contract makes as you only lose two diamonds and the trump King.

The key here is to sit back and think, and carefully plan the play of the hand. On a hand like this 10 per cent of the time East will have the spade king and you will only make ten tricks when the rest of the room is making 11. What you need to think about, though, is the other 90 per cent of the time, when you are the only successful declarer in the room, because you did some thinking and avoided the reflex play.


Monday, May 24

1. Pat Siddle - Gill Gray

2. Jane Clipper - Mike Tait

3. Gertie Barker - Jane Smith

Tuesday, May 25

1. Marion Silver - Duncan Silver

2. Jean Schilling - Tim Mardon

3. Malcolm Moseley - Mark Stevens

Wednesday, May 26

1/2 Francisco Plana Estruch - Nick Kempe

1/2 Linda Pollett - Bill Pollett

3. Gertie Barker - Jane Smith

Thursday, May 27

1. Marge Way - Jane Smith

2. Sharon Shanahan - Claude Guay

3. Stephanie Kyme - Charles Hall

Friday, May 28

1. Heather Woolf - Jack Rhind

2. Charles Hall - John Rayner

3. Marge Way - Ed Betteto

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Published May 29, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 28, 2021 at 5:33 pm)

Seek better options before falling back on finesses

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