The Real Deal


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Is this how we learned to finesse?

On the golf course, where I get many Real Deals, Victor Markowitz told me about this deal he witnessed in a South American Championship match. With both sides vulnerable in a knockout team event, South held:

♠ K 10 8 74    5    A K Q J 9   ♣ 7 2

His partner opened 1 and he responded 1♠. When partner rebid 2♣, South jumped directly to 3NT. Whether or not you like that bid, you must agree that he had the unbid suit well stopped!

A low diamond was led and declarer faced:

North
♠ A
Q 10 9 6 2
6 4
♣ A Q J 5 4
South
♠ K 10 8 7 4
5
A K Q J 9
♣ 7 2

What is your plan? You have five diamonds, two spades and one club for sure. At the table, declarer won the ♦9 and took a club finesse. The finesse lost and back came a diamond. Now what?

There were serious entry problems. Declarer was up to nine tricks (two clubs, two spades and five diamonds) but couldn’t cash them. He had no way to reach his ♠K. Furthermore, he was in his hand for probably the last time, so he had to cash all of his diamonds. What should he throw from dummy?

Hoping that clubs were 3–3, declarer threw two hearts and one club as he ran his diamonds. If clubs split, he’d still have a ninth trick (by way of one spade, three clubs and five diamonds). Alas, this was the Real Deal:

This was the Real Deal:

North
♠ A
Q 10 9 6 2
6 4
♣ A Q J 5 4
West
♠ J 9 5 2
A 7 4
10 8 7 5
♣ 9 3
East
♠ Q 6 3
K J 8 3
3 2
♣ K 10 8 6
South
♠ K 10 8 7 4
5
A K Q J 9
♣ 7 2

As you can see, clubs were 4–2 and declarer was a trick short. The defense collected two club tricks and three hearts.

Declarer’s line of play might have been OK if overtricks were important, but at team scoring, he had a sure way to nine tricks.

At trick two, he should cross to dummy’s ♠A and at trick three, lead dummy’s ♣Q. Whether or nor the defense wins the trick, declarer has a clear path (no entry problems) to nine tricks – five diamonds, two spades and two clubs. Leading the queen from dummy isn’t exactly the way we were taught to play x–x opposite A–Q–J, but taking the full deal into account, it was the correct way to handle the suit this time.