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"HOW COME you didn't take a second finesse in hearts?" asked East after I'd made my Three No-trumps contract. "I know you of all people wouldn't have peeked at my hand." I nodded gravely at this assessment of my ethical standards. "Your eyesight is too bad." True.

Our Precision Club auction saw us to Three No-trumps, and West led the six of clubs to East's king and my ace. At rubber bridge or teams I might finesse the queen of hearts for a possible overtrick and, if this failed, simply claim my nine tricks and get on with the next hand. But this was pairs, and if West held K J x in hearts, I would end with 12 tricks.

I played off my diamond winners, on which East parted with a heart and two spades. Then I ran my ten of hearts, losing to East's jack, and a club came back. Now I made my controversial play of a small heart to the ace.

Agreed, the odds favour finessing, on the basis that on percentage the heart honours will be divided.

However, East's discard of a small heart on a diamond was significant. From what holding would he have done this? J x x x x? But, if that were the case, when I played my second heart West's king should have appeared. J x x x?

With dummy's hearts in full view, who would discard from that holding, especially as at that stage he probably wouldn't know whether South or West held the king? Therefore the most likely holding from which he would discard a small heart was K J x x.

East-West game;

dealer South



!A Q 9 8

#Q J 9 4 2

27 5 3

West East

4Q 8 7 3 4K J 5 4

!5 3 2 !K J 7 4

#7 #5 3

2J 9 8 6 2 2K 10 4


4A 10 9 2

!10 6

#A K 10 8 6

2A Q