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The Independent Online
NORMALLY, WHEN tackling a suit of A 10 9 xx facing K J xx there is little to choose between finessing against the queen and playing for the drop, with the latter plan having a very slight edge. On this deal, however, a fine point might have steered declarer towards the finesse.

South opened One Heart and North raised to Three Hearts. South continued with a cue bid of Four Clubs but his partner was reluctant to go beyond game by showing his4A and signed off with Four Hearts. South passed (just!) and West led 4K. Declarer scowled slightly when he saw dummy. "We may have missed it, partner," he said. "I didn't expect you to turn up with 4A!"

After winning the lead with dummy's ace, declarer started with the two top hearts, only to find that West now had a trick in the suit. Still, without a care in the world, he started on the clubs, but there was more bad news when the suit proved to be 4-0. When East got in with his jack of clubs, he switched to #K and now South found himself losing one trick in each suit.

The reflection that South might have had was that the only possible danger of going down lay in finding East with all four missing clubs (combined, of course, with a mis-guess in trumps).

Now, if the adverse club distribution is to be assumed (West holding a void), then West is more likely to hold length in hearts. Declarer would have done better to begin trumps with the ace and follow with a finesse against the queen. If this had lost, the chances of picking up the clubs without loss would surely have been improved.

Game all; dealer South


4A 5

!K J 7 4

#7 4

2Q 10 8 6 4

West East

4K Q 10 8 4J 7 6 4 3

!Q 8 2 !6

#10 8 6 5 3 2 #K Q 9

2none 2J 9 7 2


49 2

!A 10 9 5 3

#A J

2A K 5 3