Quiz 7J38   Main

Finesse for a King?

by Richard Pavlicek

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.

Problem 1

 6 SouthNone Vul A 6 5 4 A K 5 4 4 J 7 5 4 WestPassPassPassPassPassAll Pass North1 3 4 5 6 EastPassPassPassPassPass SOUTH1 1 4 5 5 NT6 Lead: K East plays 6 Q J 10 9 8 3 2 A K 8 7 6 5 — You ruff the first trick. What next?

 A. Lead Q to ace B. Run the Q C. Win A; ruff ; win A D. Win A; ruff ; lead 5

Solution

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 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: 2 10-8-7-6 Q-10-9-2 A-K-10-8

 Quiz 7J38   Main Top   Finesse for a King?

Problem 2

 6 SouthNone Vul A 6 5 4 3 A J 2 6 5 4 3 2 WestPassPassAll Pass North3 4 EastPassPass SOUTH1 4 6 Lead: Q East plays 6 Q J 10 9 8 K 10 4 3 A A K 4 After winning the A, what next?

 A. Lead Q to ace B. Run the Q C. Win A; lead Q to ace D. Win A; run the Q

Solution

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 Q.

The best technique is to cash the A at trick two, then lead the 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: 2 7-6-5 K-J-8-7-3 Q-J-10-5

 Quiz 7J38   Main Top   Finesse for a King?

Problem 3

 6 SouthNone Vul A 6 5 4 3 2 A 4 A K K Q 2 WestPassPassPassPass North3 3 4 NT6 EastPassPassPassAll Pass SOUTH1 3 4 5 Lead: J Q J 10 9 8 Q J 10 9 8 3 2 A You win the A and A. What next?(If you lead Q, West plays 7)

 A. Lead Q to ace B. Run the Q C. Win K; K-Q; A D. Win K; K; ruff Q; run Q

Solution

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 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 Q, win A and lead another spade for the same endplay.

West held: K-7 7-6-5 J-10-9-4 9-8-7-5

 Quiz 7J38   Main Top   Finesse for a King?