Article 7K40   Main

Those Pesky Queens

  by Richard Pavlicek

Do you hate having to guess which way to finesse for the queen of trumps? Experts do, and they always look for a way to avoid it. This deal is a typical case.

South dealsS A J 8WestNorthEastSouth
E-W vulH K 3 21 S
D J 6 4Pass2 SPass3 S
C 7 6 4 2Pass4 SPassPass
S Q 5 4TableS 3 2Pass
H 9 8H 10 7 6 4
D Q 9 5D K 10 8 3
C K Q 10 5 3C A 9 8
S K 10 9 7 6
H A Q J 5
D A 7 2
4 S SouthC J

The bidding was straightforward to reach the sound game in spades. Especially note South’s simple game invitation with 3 S, rather than tipping off the opponents by bidding hearts — over 90 percent of the time you will end up in spades anyway, and you might get a friendly heart lead if you keep it quiet.

West led the C K and continued the suit, South ruffing. Declarer was faced with a two-way finesse for the queen of trumps and took the percentage play by crossing to the S A and running the jack. Alas, it lost to the pesky queen and the contract failed. Too bad.

Finessing East for the queen was the percentage play in spades alone, but a single suit does not dictate the best play for an entire deal. It is only a piece of the picture, or a tree in the forest. Rather than rely on the 50-50 finesse, an expert would see that the contract is cold on a 3-2 trump break (a 68-percent chance).

After ruffing the second club, the proper technique is to win the S K and S A (no finesses!) then ruff another club. Cross to the H K and ruff the last club with your last trump. Now just run the hearts until West ruffs, and the D A provides an entry to enjoy the last heart — a neat dummy reversal for 10 tricks.

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© 1999 Richard Pavlicek