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Finesse for a King?


Each of these slam contracts has a similar trump holding with a potential finesse for the king. As South, see if you can find the winning plays.

1. 6 S by South

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


Answer

With nine cards, it is normal to finesse for a king, but you have to consider more than a single suit. Don’t miss the forest for the trees! After ruffing the club lead, if you next led a trump you would fail.

The main concern is to establish your diamond suit. Win the D A and ruff a diamond (save the king for later). Next lead a low trump, willing to concede the trick to the king. Regardless of the defense, you can ruff another diamond with the ace and draw trumps; the rest of your diamonds will be good.

West held:

S 2 H 10-8-7-6 D Q-10-9-2 C A-K-10-8

2. 6 S by South

S A 6 5 4 3
H A J 2
D 6 5 4
C 3 2
Lead: C QTable
S Q J 10 9 8
H K 10 4 3
D A
C A K 4


Answer

Even with 10 cards, finessing for the king is the percentage play if we consider just a single suit, but once again the entire deal dictates otherwise. If you lost the spade finesse, you’d have to guess the H Q.

The best technique is to cash the D A at trick two, then lead the S Q (maybe West will cover) to the ace. Assume both follow and the king does not drop. Next ruff a diamond; ruff the third club and ruff dummy’s last diamond. Finally, exit with a trump, and whoever wins the trick will be endplayed.

West held:

S 2 H 7-6-5 D K-J-8-7-3 C Q-J-10-5

3. 6 S by South

S A 6 5 4 3 2
H A 4
D A K
C K Q 2
Lead: D JTable
S Q J 10 9 8
H Q J 10 9 8
D 3 2
C A


Answer

Your trumps are getting longer! With 11 cards you should normally play to drop a missing king; but strangely enough, this time you can almost insure your slam by taking the finesse.

Lead a club to your ace, cross in diamonds and cash the remaining clubs. Well, almost: On the last club you must ruff to reach your hand. Next, lead the S Q and, if West follows low, let it ride. If East wins a blank king, he will be endplayed. If West shows out on the S Q, win S A and lead another spade for the same endplay.

West held:

S K-7 H 7-6-5 D J-10-9-4 C 9-8-7-5

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek