THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
AN EXCEPTION TO THE FINESSE RULE
Paul Valery, a French poet, essayist and philosopher who died in 1945, said, “Every thought is an exception to the general rule that people don’t think.”
Perhaps the primary reason that bridge has remained so popular is that there always seem to be exceptions to the “rules” of the game.
When taking a finesse you wish to repeat, often you lead the lowest card that can hold the trick if the finesse is winning. Then you can immediately repeat it. But that is not always the case. In this deal, South is in four spades. West leads a low diamond. East takes the trick with his 10 and returns a low diamond. After ruffing, how should declarer continue?
South might have immediately overcalled four spades, but wondered about a slam. West made a negative double, promising four hearts. East’s double was for takeout; it was a tad aggressive, but the singleton spade improved his hand’s value.
South must hold his losers to one in each side suit. Since West has a club honor, this requires taking two club finesses and leading toward the heart king. So, declarer seems to need three dummy entries, but he has only two: the spade jack and ace. However, he can do it if he is thoughtful.
South draws trumps ending in the dummy. Then comes the key play: He must lead the club two and play his jack.
West wins and leads another diamond. Declarer ruffs, crosses to dummy with a spade, and runs the club nine. Still in the dummy, he can then lead a heart up to his king — mission accomplished.