bridge 7-13

Mary Tyler Moore said, “I’m an experienced woman; I’ve been around ... well, all right, I might not’ve been around, but I’ve been ... nearby.”

Let’s see how close you can come to making three no-trump in today’s deal without, of course, looking around corners into the East-West hands. After West leads the spade queen, what should declarer do?

South’s sequence, a strong, artificial and forcing two clubs followed by a jump to three no-trump, showed a balanced 25-27 points. It can be an uncomfortable start to the auction, so I think South ought to have 4-3-3-3 distribution or 4-4-3-2 with a doubleton minor. Then the responder, with a five-card major, knows it is safe to transfer into his major.

At the table, declarer ducked the first trick. However, when West continued with the spade eight (lead first the top then the bottom of a sequence), and East discarded a low heart, South won with his king.

With only eight top tricks, South had to generate his ninth winner from the club suit. But after cashing the club ace and receiving only low cards, should declarer go into the dummy and take the finesse, or should he continue with the king and jack?

Maybe intuition or experience gives you the answer. But you can analyze the situation. Taking the finesse wins whenever East has the queen — a 50% probability. Playing clubs from the top wins whenever the suit is breaking 3-3 or someone holds either the 10-doubleton or the queen-doubleton. That totals 64.6% and makes it the better play.

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