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A Very Good Play

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My faithful bridge partner and wife Charlene played this hand recently. This was not a spectacular high-scoring contract, just a great illustration of fine play. The contract was three hearts, and Charlene was the only declarer of eight who played the hand to score 10 tricks and a top score. Note that we did not bid game because it would have been a mild stretch, and in pairs you do not want to take yourself out of contention on a hand by budding too much. If there are four inevitable losers and you bid four, you lose to anyone who bids only two or three and makes his contract. In a team game, the philosophy is quite different because if you think the other team is going to bid the game and get the 500-point bonus, you want to be in game, too. If you both go down, you get about the same score. But if they bid it and you don't, the loss is sizable.

The notable play on this hand was the double finesse in clubs. After the south defender led a heart to the 8, 10 and jack, Charlene led a club to the jack. This lost to the queen, and north led back a diamond, taken by the ace. Now the key play was to lead the second small club and when south played low, to finesse the 10. This finesse worked, and the ace of clubs was used to dump a diamond loser. Charlene then led a diamond to get rid of the diamond in her hand, and when south led another diamond, she trumped it. Then she led a spade to the ace to trump the last club from the dummy and gave up a spade to north, who was forced to lead up to the king-nine of trump. This was well done and deserved a top score.

Pay attention to Charlene's play of the clubs if you would like to study good technique. Even though she had only a singleton club and the diamond suit was wide open, because the ace had been played, Charlene took the second club finesse that enabled her to discard a loser and maintain control of the hand. The odds are strongly in favor of the second finesse, but many players are reluctant to make the play with only one card left in the suit.

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