Bid a Slam on a Finesse at Worst by David Gold

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Source: Mr. Bridge

Playing rubber bridge, you pick up a promising collection, eighteen points and a solid suit:

aaxx

You open a good old-fashioned 2, (strong) and partner responds 3 promising a good suit and some values. You decide to take control and bid 4NT (simple Blackwood), and partner shows one ace. What do you do now? You are missing an ace, so a grand slam is obviously impossible — but what about the small slam? Partner has promised a good club suit. K-Q-9-x-x-(x) or A-Q-9-x-x-(x) are likely. Opposite the former, partner must have the ace of spades, making the slam good (only down if the opponents have a club ruff). Opposite the latter, slam will be on a finesse if partner turns up with nothing else of use. So trusting my maxim, you try 6. Partner’s hand on this occasion:

hand a

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The slam makes easily on a diamond lead as you can discard your losing clubs on the king-queen of diamonds. Of course, on a terrible day partner might have this instead:

hand b

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The above hand is not even enough for a positive — yet the slam relies only on the club finesse. The point is this: if you can work out that slam will be on a finesse at worst, you are getting good odds. In the worse scenario (hand b), you get 50/50 and you may get much better odds (hand a).

Still playing rubber bridge, you pick up another fine collection:

aaxx

You open 1 and partner responds 2. You rebid 2 (forcing) and partner bids 4, a delayed game raise. Again, you try 4NT (Blackwood) and partner shows one ace. Why should you try 6? Some possible hands follow:aaxx

Nothing special but the slam is cold

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Partner does not have the heart king, but slam is still almost a certainty.

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Partner has neither the king of hearts nor a fifth club, but the slam is still cold? (If the opponents take the diamond ace at trick one, you have three discards for the hearts. On a non-diamond lead, you can discard two diamonds and afford to lose a heart).

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Hand 4 is disappointing, with no heart king, fifth club or much diamond help, yet 6 requires only the heart finesse. Occasionally, the opponents will not lead a diamond; then the slam makes, no matter who has the king of hearts.

Be Optimistic

It pays to be optimistic in these types of situations. Sometimes partner turns up with a worse hand than you even considered, but the opponents find the wrong lead or misdefend anyway. So my advice is definitely: ‘Bid a slam that will be on a finesse at worst.