FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA

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Bridge

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THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
DOES SOUTH NEED A FINESSE TO WORK?

David Cone, who pitched a perfect game for the Yankees in 1999, said, “I’m a finesse pitcher without the finesse.”
That gives a good hint for today’s deal. South is in six spades. West leads the diamond ace: three, queen, two. West continues with a low diamond, which South ruffs. How should declarer continue? As a secondary issue, what was West’s more successful defense?
North’s sequence, a two-over-one response followed by a jump in spades, showed exactly three-card spade support and game-forcing values. South then used Roman Key Card Blackwood to learn that his partner had two key cards (two aces, or one ace and the spade king) and the spade queen.
After ruffing the second diamond, declarer initially thought he would have to rely on the club finesse. But then, because North’s trumps were so strong, he realized that if spades were 3-2 (mathematically more likely than the club finesse working), he could get home with a dummy reversal.
South played a heart to dummy’s 10, ruffed another diamond, returned to dummy with a trump, ruffed the last diamond, drew trumps and claimed. Declarer took three spades on the board, five hearts, one club and three ruffs in his hand.
West could have defeated the contract if he had shifted to a spade or heart at trick two, which would have killed the timing for the dummy reversal and forced South to take the club finesse.
Afterward, North commented, “I never guessed that my heart 10 would be such a vital card.”

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