David Cone, who pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees in 1999, said, "I'm a finesse pitcher without the finesse."
In bridge, we have lots of finesses: regular, backward, ruffing, two-way, intra and so on. In theory, a simple finesse is a 50-50 shot at an extra trick. But in newspaper columns and classes, the probability that a finesse will succeed drops dramatically, perhaps to as low as 10 percent. A finesse will work only if it is needed.
In this deal, South is faced with two finesses. Given that they will both lose, how can he still make four hearts after West leads the spade queen?
North's two-no-trump response was the Jacoby Forcing Raise. South's four-heart rebid showed a minimum opening bid with no singleton or void.
South starts by counting losers and should see one in each suit. Of course, if either minor-suit finesse is winning, there won't be a problem. But we just know that won't happen. And if both finesses are failing, declarer must lose at least one heart, one diamond and one club. How can he avoid a spade loser?
He must discard his third spade on dummy's third club — and there isn't a moment to lose. After taking the first trick, South must cash his club ace, then lead the club jack. (Yes, he could lead the club jack first, but why block the suit?)
West wins and leads a second spade, but declarer takes that trick, plays a diamond to dummy's ace, and discards his remaining spade on the club queen. Then he draws trumps as quickly as possible.
COPYRIGHT: 2012, UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE
SPADES 7 6 3
HEARTS K Q J 5
DIAMONDS A Q 10
CLUBS Q 7 6
SPADES Q J 10 8SPADES 9 5 2
HEARTS 7 4 2HEARTS A
DIAMONDS 7 6 3DIAMONDS K 8 5 4
CLUBS K 9 4CLUBS 10 8 5 3 2
SPADES A K 4
HEARTS 10 9 8 6 3
DIAMONDS J 9 2
CLUBS A J
1 HEARTSPass2 NTPass
Opening lead: SPADES Q