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A Daring Play

By Alan Reynolds

N-S Vul
IMP Pairs
A K J 2
A K 3
10 8 5 2
Q 6
 
7 6
Q J 8 2
A K 9 7 3
K 10
I was left to play 4 as South. While 3 NT looks to be the room contract, 4 is all but solid and could gain against bad breaks.
The 6 lead looked to be singleton. I won the jack with the ace, cashed the Q, crossed to K and played the A. All followed. This is not good; playing in hearts I could deal with 1-3 diamonds and 5-1 hearts [by using diamonds as trump substitutes] to beat the pairs in 3 NT.
When I led the 10, east covered with the queen, I won the king, and west followed.
This is disastrous, all the pairs in 3 NT - no doubt the popular contract - will score 12 tricks by default.
I must confess that at this point I consoled myself with the thought that at least we beat those in 5 , cleared a club trick and claimed 12. It was later in the bar when we almost glossed over the hand as a bidding view that the answer jumped off the page.
At the point where both red suits are known to split you have:
A K J 2
8 5
Q 6
 
7 6
J
9 7 3
K 10
Eleven tricks on top and a high club to force the twelfth, but this will lose to all the pairs in 3NT. What can be done? Take the Spade finesse!
This is a true non-material finesse. Twelve tricks were available before the play and only twelve are available after. The difference is that now the tricks can be cashed without giving up the lead. After the finesse, run the diamonds then the last heart:
A K 2
Q
 
7
J
K 10
This results in an automatic squeeze against either defender holding A and long spades.
Should the play be found? Yes. The field contract rates to be 3 NT which makes 12 tricks on any lead for 490. If the finesse works and the squeeze is on you score 510, if the finesse works and the squeeze fails your partner will look quizzical but you still come to 12 tricks and if the finesse fails you lose a point to all those in 4H and two points to all those in 3NT making 11 tricks. These rate to be minority groups.
The (IMP pairs) scores on the day:
 
	 4H+1    608
	 4H+2    835
	3NT+3   1318
	 4H+3   1715
	  TOP   3018
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1995-2009.
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