Wednesday 14 April 1999
South opened 1 no-trumps (15-17 points); North raised directly to game. West led !4 against 3 no-trumps; East took his ace and returned !9 to South's king. Declarer took an immediate club finesse; East won and cleared the hearts. Now South could take three clubs, two hearts and two spades but not come to a second winner in diamonds without losing five tricks.
South was surely wrong to take this early club finesse. If the finesse is right there will always be four tricks in the suit. Also, it was wrong to give East the chance of clearing hearts while West still had an entry. Finally, if the diamonds behave favourably, the club finesse may not be needed.
The best line would have been to cross to 2A at trick 3 and lead a low diamond with the intention of finessing the nine. If East goes in with #J, South comes to three diamond tricks and does not need the clubs. If East plays low, #9 wins and, with an extra diamond trick, South can develop clubs safely (though if a club finesse wins now, it should not be repeated in case East has cunningly allowed 2J to win; the spade tricks should be developed). If the finesse of #9 loses to the jack, South falls back on the club finesse.
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