X-Clubs 47

Even the most boring hand can be made more interesting when you’re playing a match point game, because just one overtrick can make a big difference to your score. The results on this board at our club were identical, 3NT by East, jack of diamonds lead, making three, at every table but one, where the
declarer made an overtrick for 100% on the board.

Board 20 from Tuesday 7/02/23
Dealer West All Vul


It seems that those declarers who made exactly 3NT just cashed up their nine tricks. Simple game. But is it not worth while trying to score an overtrick if you possibly can do so safely? If you boil it down to taking a club finesse for the overtrick, which way would you finesse? The normal play is the king and then one to the jack. But that leaves declarer open to a spade attack if it loses and the spade honours are split and North switches. But North is almost sure to return a diamond if declarer has gone up with the king from dummy (making North think that South could have led the jack from an interior sequence).

As it happens, even if a club finesse loses to North, declarer will still make 3NT, but is the risk of a club finesse worth it? What about finessing the clubs through North? That could be justified, but a good declarer won’t take that unnecessary risk. Whether declarer cashes up the red suits before playing on clubs or not, declarer should play the ace of clubs followed by the JACK. How many Norths will not cover the jack, having learnt well enough to know to ‘cover an honour with an honour’ in such a situation. Not to mention the possibility that some declarers think this is a finesse when they have only small clubs in hand to back up the king. So, a cost nothing ‘pretend finesse’ would have yielded an overtrick, I suggest, ninety percent of the time.

Understanding the probable behaviour of your opponents can be just as important as knowing how to take a finesse.