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SWISS TEAM AND MATCHPOINT STRATEGY - FINESSE OR NOT?

A J 10 9
K 10 9
A 2
8 7 6 3
N
W E
S
Q 8 7 6 5
J 6 5
K 6 5
A K
West North East South
      1
Pass 3 Pass 4
Pass Pass Pass  

4 by South
Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th
1. W Q K A 5
2. E 2 6 2 9
3. W 2 3 Q A
4. S Q 3 ?  

North uses an old fashioned 3 showing a game forcing raise with at least four trumps and South bids the spade game. West leads the Q to East's ace and ruffs the heart return with the 2. After winning the club return, South leads the Q and West follows with a low spade. Should South finesse or go up with dummy's ace if this occurs (1) during a Swiss team match, or (2) during a typical matchpoint game?

Using an event with imp scoring (Swiss teams, knockout, or imp pairs), the primary goal is to make your contract! If South plays low from dummy and loses to a singleton king, East's heart return will be ruffed by West's lone remaining trump to beat the spade game - and it's the only way South can go down in game! By playing A and another spade, South soon is claiming his game.

Playing matchpoints, the decision is more difficult. It appears 4 will be the contract at all other tables and West will usually be longer in spades, and therefore more likely to hold the K, because West started with one heart and East started with six hearts.

1. If the defense at all other tables similarly starts with the singleton Q opening lead and heart ruff, then you should risk the contract by taking the spade finesse which is a favorite to succeed. If the spade finesse works you score 11 tricks and you can't afford to ensure the contract by going up with the ace and usually making 10 tricks when so many others will make 11 tricks by taking the spade finesse.

2. If none of the other declarers receive a singleton Q opening lead and the spade finesse (which you know is a big favorite but they don't) is working, all other declarers will make 12 tricks beating your 11 trick total if you also finesse in spades. So you should make the anti-percentage play of the ace hoping to drop a singleton K resulting in 11 tricks which will at least tie the other declarers and beat the declarers who suffer a heart ruff after losing the spade finesse.

If you think the singleton Q lead with a K32 or K432 trump holding will be frequent, as I do, then you should risk the contract and finesse. But only at matchpoints. Never in a Swiss team, knockout, or imp pair event! This deal is based on one from the 2014 Dallas NABC Jacoby Swiss Teams where it was correct to play the ace to ensure the contract.

North Deals
E-W Vul
A J 10 9
K 10 9
A 2
8 7 6 3
4 3 2
Q
Q 10 7 3
J 9 5 4 2
N
W E
S
K
A 8 7 4 3 2
J 9 8 4
Q 10
Q 8 7 6 5
J 6 5
K 6 5
A K
4 by South
Lead: Q

Bud Hinckley
budh9534@gmail.com

     
 
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