Most off today’s deals were on how to get the most from finessing situations.
If the loss of either initial finesse would result in the defeat of your contract, you must decide which of the two finesses to risk.
You have a possible heart loser, a loser that can be avoided if West has the Queen.
On the other hand, if East has the Jack of spades, you can lead a spade to the 10.
If the 10 of spades holds, you can later discard two hearts from dummy on the King-Queen of spades.
In other words, you are looking at two finesses and if either works you can make your grand slam.
But if you take the wrong one… down you go.
If only you knew which one to take.
Occasionally the best line is to combine your chances partially by following the following strategy:
IF YOU CANNOT TRY BOTH FINESSES, FIRST CASH THE TOP CARDS IN THE SUIT IN WHICH THE OUTSTANDING HONOR IS MORE LIKELY TO DROP.
Here you have one suit missing a Queen (hearts) and the other missing a Jack (spades).
To increase your chances, play the Ace and the King in the suit missing a Queen.
If the Queen appears, you have 12 tricks.
If the Queen does not appear, take the finesse in the suit missing a Jack.
Since one finesse is as good as the other, you pick something like an extra 20% by cashing the Ace-King of hearts before taking the finesse in spades, as the Queen might fall under the Aca-King.
Testing the hearts without giving up the lead has kept you alive to take the spade finesse, not to mention those extra 20%.
If you have KQ9x of spades, then it is right to play off the three top spades first, hoping the Jack will drop (37%) and keeping the heart finesse in reserve if it does not.
You try the King of spades but East wins and returns the 7.
You are now wide open in spades and must avoid taking any losing finesse.
You have eight sure tricks and if clubs divide, you do not have to worry about either red suit finesse.
You test the clubs but West discards a heart on the second round.
If either finesse works you make your contract.
In cases like this, the following rule comes in handy.
WHEN FACING A CHOICE OF FINESSES IN TWO SUITS MISSING THE QUEEN AND EITHER OF THESE FINESSES WILL GIVE YOU THE CONTRACT, PLAY THE ACE AND THE KING OF THE LONGEST SUIT AND IF THE QUEEN DOES NOT DROP, TAKE THE FINESSE IN THE OTHER SUIT.
Here, the best play is the diamonds Ace and King, followed by the King of hearts and heart to the Jack.
You have 11 top tricks and there are two chances to make your contract: the club finesse or the spade finesse.
Unfortunately, the diamond opening lead has forced out your Ace, and either losing finesse would allow the opponents to cash the setting trick in diamonds.
Since you cannot try both finesses, you should first try to drop one of the missing honors.
Obviously, the Queen of clubs is likely to drop, because you have three more clubs than spades.
Therefore, after drawing trumps, you should cash the Ace-King of clubs.
When the Queen drops, you make an overtrick.
If the Queen did not drop, you would still have the spade finesse available to make your contract.
You have 10 sure tricks and there are three chances to make the contract:
- East holds the King of spades,
- East holds the !CQ and the Jack of clubs,
- The outstanding clubs split 3-3.
Unfortunately, the opening lead may force you to make a critical play early.
You can either duck, finesse the Queen or rise with the Ace.
If you duck, East will continue with the 10, forcing you again into the same dilemma.
If you finesse the Queen and it loses, a spade return will knock out your Ace.
Then you will not be able to take advantage of a 3-3 club break — the opponents can cash the setting trick when they gain the lead.
The correct play is to win the Ace at trick one.
Then you will draw trumps and lead a club to the 10.
This loses to the safe hand (West) so your Queen of spades cannot be led through.
Regardless of the return, you will be able to benefit from dummy’s long club.
Note that if the clubs do not break 3-3, you would still be able to lead a spade toward the Queen and succeed if East held the King.
Thus you kept all your chances alive by winning the Ace of spades first.
If the opening lead were a LOW spade, you could accomplish the same objective by ducking the first trick. But you could not afford to duck the Jack.
You can finesse for the King in each side of the suit, and your contract will succeed (barring an unlikely ruff) if any finesse works.
Draw trumps ending in dummy.
Which finesse would you choose to take?
You should take all three finesses!
Since the lead is a club, you should play the Queen at trick one.
Later you can try the spade and diamond finesses the first time either suit is led.
Note that you will win anywhere from nine to twelve tricks depending on how many finesses work.
You will be set only if they all lose, which makes you a strong favorite (about 7 to 1).
You will win when:
All three Kings are in South (11%).
All three Kings are in North (11%).
Minor Kings in North, spade King in South (13%).
Spade + club Kings in North, diamond King in South (13%).
Spade + diamond Kings in North, club King in South (13%).
You will lose only when both minor Kings in North and spade King in South (13%).
You have a choice of three finesses – a lead toward the King of hearts, a direct finesse in diamonds or a ruffing finesse in diamonds.
If you rely exclusively on any of these, your chances are just 50%.
The correct line involves taking none of the finesses.
You should play three rounds of spades, discarding a diamond from your hand.
Then cash the Ace of diamonds and exit with a trump to West’s Queen.
What can West return?
A spade will give you a ruff-and-discard; a diamond will be through the QJ10 up to your void.
Eleven tricks whatever West does.
After winning the trump lead you should take the small risk of taking the Ace-King of hearts and ruff a third round in your hand, eliminating the suit.
Lead a trump to dummy and finesse the 10 of clubs.
West can win the King but he has no good return.
A heart will give you a ruff-and-discard, allowing you to throw the 2 of diamonds and ruff in your hand.
Dummy’s other diamond loser will be thrown on the Ace of clubs.
A return of either minor will also give you the contract.