Both vulnerable. South deals.


x7 6 4

uA 8 5

vA J 10 3

wK J 3


xK J 9 3 2 xQ 10 8

uQ 10 4 uJ 9 6 3

v7 5 2 vK 8 6

wQ 7 w6 4 2


xA 5

uK 7 2

vQ 9 4

wA 10 9 8 5

The bidding:


1w Pass 1v Pass

1NT Pass 3NT Pass

Pass Pass

Opening lead: Three of x

If bridge, like golf had a mulligan — the ability to take back a play and try again — we would all be experts. However, you only get one crack at landing your contract, so make the most of the chances that are available.

The auction was simplicity itself. North-South each showed a long suit and, after South described a balanced minimum opener, North knew where the hand should be played.

West led a fourth-best spade to East’s queen and declarer made a futile holdup of the ace, winning the second round of the suit instead as West followed with the deuce. A successful finesse in either minor would produce at least nine tricks and, to complicate matters a little, the club finesse could be taken against either opponent. But declarer could not afford to take a losing finesse because the defenders would then be able to cash enough spade tricks to defeat the contract. What should South do?

Rather than guess or hope for divine inspiration, declarer should simply adopt a line, which offers play in both minors. First, the ace and king of clubs should be played off to see whether the queen drops singleton or doubleton. If that happens, declarer scampers home with nine tricks. If her majesty does not appear, declarer falls back on the diamond finesse. Since odds of felling a singleton or doubleton queen when missing five cards in the suit are over 30 percent, this approach is a clear improvement over relying on the finesse alone.

2013 Tribune Media Services

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