ANOTHER example of a finesse technique that not everybody knows. North raises South’s 1NT rebid to 3NT on the strength of his working tens. West leads his fourth highest heart, and East produces the king.
Declarer holds up his ace till the third round. He has six Sure Tricks, and could establish two more in spades, but that is too slow – if he plays on spades the defenders will make four hearts and two spades and he will be down.
He must make three extra tricks without losing the lead, so he turns to clubs. If West has the king of clubs there may be four club tricks, but declarer must play the suit carefully.
He starts by leading a club to the jack. When that scores he returns to hand with a diamond to play his second low club. When the king pops up he wins the ace, returns to the queen, and crosses to the king of diamonds to cash the ten. Then he makes two more diamonds to bring his total to nine.
It is tempting to lead the queen of clubs on the first round, to keep the lead for a second finesse, but that is the wrong play when you do not have the nine. West covers the queen with the king and now there are only three club tricks if the suit breaks 4-2. You can make four tricks only when West has specifically Kx or Kxx, and careful play allows you to take advantage of the situation where West has a doubleton.