Test Your Play
Having recently decided to significantly reduce my duplicate appearances, I have fewer live hands to analyze. So, I again must turn to Steve Becker’s outstanding column for an example (his column is usually quite thorough, so I am lucky to occasionally find something to add). This hand appears in the July 4 issue of the Seattle Times and is entitled ‘A Duplicate Disaster’.
Bidding: (South) 1H – pass – 2C – pass – 3D – pass – 3NT – pass – 6NT.
Lead: Jack of spades.
The article notes that 6NT is cold by knocking out the Queen of hearts but an overtrick may be in the offing, which is important at duplicate. So declarer won the spade in his hand and took a heart finesse, which East ducked. Declarer next cashed the King of clubs, crossed to the Queen of diamonds, cashed his two high clubs, repeated the heart finesse and went down one when East won the Queen and cashed the Jack of clubs. Becker uses this hand to illustrate the treacherous nature of duplicate bridge. But, the same fact that this is a duplicate hand should enable South to avoid the trap while still trying for an overtrick, since he will get a bottom if he goes down, and how many he goes down is immaterial. Do you see his error?
The correct play is to win the first trick in dummy, cash the King of clubs, cross to the Queen of diamonds and take a heart finesse. Now, East can’t afford to duck since if he does declarer will make seven for a top board! He will merely test the diamonds and claim seven when they break, having no need to repeat the finesse. If diamonds don’t split, he can then return to his hand with the king of spades, cash two clubs and repeat the finesse thereby again making an overtrick if the Queen of hearts is onside. True, he might go down a bunch with this line if the finesse loses but, as previously stated, this is of no consequence at duplicate.