THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
TO REPEAT A FINESSE, WHICH CARD TO LEAD?
Rex Stout, an author of detective fiction whose most famous character is Nero Wolfe, said, “To read of a detective’s daring finesse or ingenious stratagem is a rare joy.”
Bridge players sometimes take a daring finesse that involves an ingenious stratagem. The finesse in today’s deal isn’t daring, though. The key point is how to take that finesse.
South is in three no-trump. West leads the spade queen. How should South plan the play?
If you and your partner use two no-trump as a transfer response, responder must start with two clubs and rebid two no-trump to invite game.
South starts with six top tricks: four hearts, one diamond and one club. The spade lead is annoying, but South must cover with dummy’s king and hope for the best. Here, East wins with his ace and returns a spade, and the defenders collect the first four tricks. Declarer discards two diamonds from the board, but what does he throw from his hand?
South must realize that if the club finesse is losing, he is going down. But if it is winning, he can take four hearts, one diamond and four clubs. So, although it risks several undertricks, declarer must ditch his diamond queen.
Let’s assume West shifts to the diamond jack. South wins with his ace and plays a heart to the ace. He is in the dummy for the only time and might need to take the club finesse three times. The normal strategy is first to lead the lowest card that can hold the trick, assuming the finesse is winning.
Declarer must run the club nine. Then he finesses the club queen, plays a club to his jack, and claims.