North-South vulnerable. South deals.
x -Q 9 7 4 2
u -A 10 5
v -Q J
w -A K 6
x -K 6 x -8
u -K 6 2 u -J 9 8 4
v -K 9 4 3 2 v -10 8 7 5
w -J 10 8 w -9 7 5 3
x -A J 10 5 3
u -Q 7 3
v -A 6
w -Q 4 2
SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST
1x Pass 2NT Pass
4x Pass Pass Pass
Opening lead: Jack of w
Most players look no further than a finesse to make a contract. Any expert searches for a way to avoid them.
North's two-no-trump response was, in the modern style, a forcing raise in opener's major. South's jump to game promised a minimum opening bid and denied a singleton or void in any suit. Hence, North had no desire to explore further.
West led the jack of clubs. Declarer won in dummy and immediately ran the nine of spades, losing to the king. West reverted to clubs, won with the table's remaining honor and, after drawing the remaining trump, declarer ran the queen of diamonds. West's king won and back came another club. Declarer won the club return in hand, cashed the ace of diamonds and returned to the table with a trump to lead a heart to the queen, to lose another finesse to the king. West returned a heart, declarer inserted the ten and East's knave made South 0-for-4 in the finessing department -- down one.
True, South was a most unlucky declarer -- odds on winning one of four finesses are better than 90 percent. However, there was a surefire way to land the contract as long as South avoided taking any finesse!
After winning the opening lead, declarer should cash the ace of spades in an effort to drop the king -- chances of that happening are almost as good as the finesse. When nothing good happens, declarer clears the remaining high clubs and exits with a trump.
Suppose that loses to East. The defender does best to return a diamond. Again, declarer eschews the finesse. Instead, declarer rises with the ace and exits with a diamond. It makes no difference which defender wins the trick. He must either return a heart, which will limit declarer to one loser no matter how the suit is divided, or lead a minor and give declarer a ruff-sluff. Either way, South loses just one trick in each suit except clubs.
& copy; 2005 Tribune Media Services