X-Clubs Play 32

Declarer play is not just a matter of following basic tips, but also about timing and thinking ahead. Every trick counts in a match point session. Many declarers failed to get the most out this hand in what should have been a very easy 4S game. Most did manage to make their game but some even failed to do that. Only a few made the overtrick that was there to be made without the help of Deep Finesse. All that was required was a knowledge of how to finesse and how to organise your play so that you take the finesses when it suits you.

Board 20 from Thursday 6/10/22
Dealer West All Vul


East leads the king of hearts against 4S. Let’s look at the ‘simple’ way of playing this, aided by what your bridge tutor has taught. Win the ace of hearts and draw trumps, then play on your best side suit. Piece of cake, but hold on.

You draw all three trumps and now start on diamonds. Your teacher may have at some stage told you to unblock the high card in the short hand first, or the unsupported honour card. So, the learner might start with the king of diamonds and then lead to the queen. Whoops! East shows out and now there is no way to pick up West’s jack. The teacher should have gone one step further, because anticipating a possible bad break, we should see that if East has Jxxx of diamonds nothing can be done, but if West has them then we can uncover this by playing the ace first and then leading to the king. So, the diamond finesse is easily found and executed. But what about any other finesses?

The club finesse is there for the taking but, once again, it cannot be taken because declarer has not thought the hand through and been concentrating on the diamond suit without thinking ahead. Too late now for a club finesse because there is no entry to dummy! Declarer’s only chance for a second club trick is to exit with the four and hope the defence leads another club. But most defenders are smarter than that and will find a safe exit and wait for their (or partner’s) king of clubs.

So, you can see that there are two ways to play this hand badly, and if you combine both, you will make your contract but no overtricks when even one overtrick will score badly. Two overtricks should be there for the taking by a competent declarer.