THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
TO FINESSE OR NOT TO FINESSE?
Gregory Maguire said, “I’m not a writer because I want to make money. I’m a writer because I’m a very slow thinker, but I do care about thinking, and the only way I know how to think with any kind of finesse is by telling stories.”
I can relate to some of that. And now let’s look at the story of today’s deal. South is in four spades. What should he do after West leads a trump and East follows suit?
South is worth a shot at game when North announces his fit.
Many declarers would draw trumps ending in hand, then run the club queen. But if East wins with his king and shifts to a diamond, the contract fails. The defenders take two diamonds, then sit back and wait for a heart trick.
The more experienced player realizes that the club finesse is a black herring. He will draw the second round of trumps with dummy’s nine or ace, then lead a low club toward his queen.
With this layout, if East ducks, South loses no club trick and can afford to concede one heart and two diamonds. Or, if East wins with his king and shifts to a diamond, declarer will collect six spades, one heart and three clubs for his contract.
Alternatively, if West could take South’s club queen with the king, he could not do better than to switch to a heart. But declarer would win with dummy’s ace and cash the two top clubs, discarding a diamond from his hand. He would lose only one trick in each side suit.
Finally, note that if West had found a heart lead, the contract could have always been defeated.