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World’s Smallest Finesse

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred in local club game. After North’s one-club opening, East’s overcall, and South’s one-spade response, a typical competitive auction took place. East pushed on to five hearts with his freakish distribution and South elected to bid “one more for the road.”

5 S South
E-W Vul
S A 10 6 3
H 8 4
D K 9 2
C A Q 6 4

2 H
1 C
2 S
1 H
4 H
5 H
1 S
4 S
5 S
S 5 4 2
H Q J 10 6
D J 5
C K J 5 3
H A K 9 7 3 2
D A 10 8 7 3
C 8 7

Lead: H Q
S K Q J 9 8 7
H 5
D Q 6 4
C 10 9 2

From South’s viewpoint it was likely that five hearts would succeed, since his hand might not take a trick on defense. Thus, as often happens in competition, the spade suit bought the contract.

West led the heart queen and continued the suit, South ruffing. Trumps were drawn in three rounds ending in the South hand and the club 10 was led. West covered with the king (this is better than the jack, as it leaves South in doubt as to the location of the remaining honor) and North’s ace won. The fall of East’s seven was duly noticed.

South next led the diamond king to East’s ace and won the diamond return with the queen. Then came the club nine, covered by West’s jack (best) and North’s queen. The appearance of East’s eight was a welcome sight.

In case you’re not following all this, the club suit now consisted of 5-3 in West and 6-4 in North. South came to his hand with a trump to lead the club two. West followed with the three and declarer finessed the four — call the “Guinness Book!” The club six then provided a discard for South’s losing diamond and the contract was made.

By sharpening his finessing sword, South turned a deliberate “sacrifice” into a rewarding plus score. Remember this deal the next time you talk about “insignificant” spot cards.

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© 1984 Richard Pavlicek