Kelley on Bridge


S -- Q J 3 2

H -- A 4

D -- K 4

C -- J 10 7 4 2 West

S -- 6 4


H -- K Q 9 6 3

D -- 10 8 7

C -- K 9 5 East

S -- 5

H -- J 10 5 2

D -- Q J 9 6 5

C -- 8 6 3 South

S -- A K 10 9 8 7

H -- 8 7

D -- A 3 2

C -- A Q The Bidding: East  South  West  North Pass  1 spade  pass  3 spades pass  6 spades  all pass West led the Heart King.

The unnecessary finesse accounts annually for thousands of set contracts, hundreds of lost rubbers and tens of lost tournaments. Today's contract, for example, was reached through an aggressive yet logical sequence of bidding. There are two lines of play from which this hand could be approached. If you are a beginner, you could politely smile at your partner as he laid down his hand and you realize that you have a fifty-fifty chance of making the contract, depending on where the king of clubs lay. Naturally you take the first trick with the ace, play out two rounds of trumps, ending on the board and lead a small club for the finesse. Down one. If you endorse this line of play it is suggested that you read this column more often.

Actually, there is a method which makes this contract icy. All south has to do is to take the first trick with the ace, and take out trumps in two rounds. He then cashes his two top Diamonds and ruffs a third on the board. Declarer then gets back into his hand with a trump trick and leads a heart, knowing West holds the queen, from his lead. West must come up with the queen, and, not able to exit with a red card which would give his opponent a ruff and discard is forced to return a club, giving declarer a marked finesse.

This method, known as the stripping play, is, of course, a far superior means to reach the contract, simply because percentages highly favor it.