X-Clubs Play 26

Sometimes Deep Finesse does manage to play a hand how it should be played and still get a much better result than most mere mortals. This deal gives us a very good illustration of that. Not one of our declarers made eleven tricks in a heart contract but the Deep Finesse way is not esoteric at all. Rather, any declarer who follows basic principles of play will probably manage to do what Deep Finesse can do, without stumbling on any ‘anti percentage’ lines that DF is well known for.

Board 8 from Tuesday 2/08/22.
Dealer West Nil Vul


The almost universal contract here was 4H, either by North or South. If North, the opening lead was generally the queen of spades, if South, it was sometimes the diamond four. In all cases, the declarers managed to fail to make, blaming a bad break in the trump suit for their misfortune. But Deep Finesse can make FIVE hearts, either from North or South, so DF is prepared for the best defence possible. How, then, should the declarer play have gone with NO assistance from DF?

Declarer should count tricks AND losers, and because there is no long suit to develop, look at taking care of the losers.Let’s take a look at the two most common scenarios, 4H by North with the SQ led, and 4H by South with the D4 lead.

East leads the SQ. Declarer should win this and go about taking care of North’s diamond loser. There is a simple ruffing finesse available at no cost, a ‘loser on loser’ play. Declarer wins the SA and plays the ace of clubs followed by the queen, intending to ruff if West has the king and plays it, or to discard a diamond if West plays low. As it happens, whether West covers or not, a diamond is discarded on the established club. Then declarer, instead of drawing any trumps, proceeds on cross ruff lines because the diamond losers in the South hand can be ruffed, as can North’s spades in the South hand. All that declarer has to do is give up a spade but NOT draw any trumps. And when West wins the spade and East shows out, an adverse heart break looks quite possible, so declarer should continue with care. Declarer can over-ruff East when spades are led from the North hand (unless East ruffs with the king), and later should take care to ruff the fourth club with the ace in hand. Ruffing with the queen and allowing East to overruff and shoot back a trump was no doubt what led to some declarers’ downfall, whereas ruffing with the ace at a crucial ending allows declarer then to lead a final spade and make South’s ten of trumps in an ‘en passant’ move that any chess player would be proud of. Similar scenario on a diamond lead from West. You can replay this hand by clicking here