THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THE DANGER IS AROUND THE FINESSE
Henry David Thoreau said, “When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.”
Many years ago, an expert married couple played together, and whenever the wife was the declarer, the husband turned on his portable CD player. As you might have guessed, they are not still married. But if running tunes through your mind helps you to relax and think more clearly, do it.
In today’s deal, what do you think of the bidding? After West leads his fourth-highest heart against three no-trump, what should South do?
The South hand has only 19 high-card points, but it has a very good five-card suit, one 10 and two nines. It also has seven control points (ace – 2; king – 1), which is normal for a two-no-trump opening. So I agree with South’s bid. And North, with 4-3-3-3 distribution, was playing the percentages in not using Stayman.
Declarer starts with seven top tricks: four spades, one heart, one diamond and one club. And there are at least three more winners available from the club suit.
The original declarer, though, was tone-deaf. Thinking West had led away from the heart king, South played low from the board. However, East won with his king and shifted to the diamond king. Declarer ducked, took the next diamond, crossed to dummy with a heart, and ran the club jack. But when the finesse lost, the contract went down two.
If South had been humming, he would have won the first trick with dummy’s heart ace and taken the club finesse. Then he would have won at least 10 tricks.