On paper, fortune favors the finesser
By Phillip Alder June 14, 2012 3:02PM
Updated: July 16, 2012 6:05AM
Helen Rowland, a journalist and humorist who died in 1950, said, “Before marriage, a man declares that he would lay down his life to serve you; after marriage, he won’t even lay down his newspaper to talk to you.”
Surely not! Now let’s move to a bridge contract that requires a finesse for success. In real life, it might or might not succeed. In a newspaper column, it is certain to work. A columnist won’t show a hopeless contract unless there is some defensive point.
As an example, in this deal South is in four hearts. West leads the club queen. The defenders take two tricks in the suit, then shift to diamonds, taken by declarer’s ace. How should South continue?
There seem to be four unavoidable minor-suit losers. The only chance for a 10th trick is to establish dummy’s fifth spade. But that requires four dummy entries: three for ruffing spades in hand and one to get back to the dummy to cash the last spade. What must those entries be?
The spade ace and all three trumps -- so care is needed. Declarer plays a spade to dummy’s ace and ruffs a spade with a middle trump. Then he bravely leads a middle trump to dummy’s nine. West is more likely to have 10-doubleton than East will have 10-singleton. When that finesse wins, as we knew it would, South ruffs a spade high, plays his last middle heart to dummy’s jack, and ruffs another spade high. Then he leads the carefully conserved heart two to dummy’s three and triumphantly cashes the last spade. Finally, the defenders will discuss how they could have found the killing trump shift at trick three.