Finessing Technique

In a team match, both Souths landed at four hearts and faced an immediate decision when West led a diamond.

One possibility was to take the ace and cash three clubs, throwing a diamond from dummy. If both defenders followed, South could lead a fourth club and pitch dummy's last diamond. A defender would ruff, but South might lose only two spades besides.

Both declarers chose instead to finesse in diamonds. One played low from dummy, and East took the king. Since East could see no more diamond tricks and no clubs, he led the ace and a low spade next. West took the king and also got a trump: down one.

DEVIOUS PLAY

The second South was craftier: he played the queen of diamonds at Trick One. If the queen won, South would lose two spades and maybe a trump.

East won but didn't know who had the jack; West might have led from J-7-6-5. So East returned a diamond, hoping for a second diamond trick. South won, took the top trumps and threw a spade on the ace of diamonds.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S K 5 H J 9 8 3 D 10 7 6 5 3 C 8 4. Your partner bids one heart, and the next player doubles. What do you say?

ANSWER: Unless the vulnerability is unfavorable, bid three hearts, preemptive; if you had a good hand, you'd start with a redouble, planning to support hearts next. You suggest four trumps and good distribution but little high-card strength. Change your four of clubs to a low heart and you'd try four hearts.

N-S vulnerable

NORTH dealer

S J 10 9 7 2

H Q 7 4

D A Q 4

C A Q

WEST

S K 5

H J 9 8 3

D 10 7 6 5 3

C 8 4

EAST

S A 8 4 3

H 5

D K 9 8

C 7 6 5 3 2

SOUTH

S Q 6

H A K 10 6 2

D J 2

C K J 10 9

North

1 S

3 H

East

Pass

Pass

South

2 H

4 H

West

Pass

All Pass

Opening lead -- D 5

Copyright 2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate