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Match Point Bridge by H.W. Kelsey

Sarasota Journal – 9 Mar 1971 by Dan Howe

In match – point duplicate, percentage does not always dictate the decision of whether to finesse or not. Nor does one’s hunch. Nor does the opposition’s bidding, particularly if there has been none. Take this hand from H. W Kelsey’s book, Match Point Bridge:

North dealer Neither side vulnerable

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If you are in South’s position, playing a five club sacrifice, you can see that you are bound to lose two spades and two diamond tricks unless the defense is very careless. The point is, how are you going to play the club suit, where you have a possible loser that will make your sacrifice too costly?

Says Mr. Kelsey: Never admit the possibility of a phantom sacrifice. The assumption must always be that the enemy could have made their game and that your sacrifice will be worthwhile. It is only by assuming that you have reached the par (optimum) contract that you can maintain the essential consistency in bidding and play that is the mark of the winner.»

All right. Let’s apply Mr. Kelsey’s philosophy to this board. For your five-club contract not to have been a phantom sacrifice. East-West must have been able to make a game in spades or hearts. With three sure losers in the major suits — two hearts and a spade — East-West, therefore, must have had no losers in clubs.

That means that clubs could not be split as you might ordinarily play them to be split 1-1. Instead, one of the opponents had to be void in clubs.

So, after you gain the lead in dummy, you play dummy’s queen of clubs. When West follows suit (with a small club, you must take the finesse yes). AGAINST the odds. Otherwise, you’ve got a lousy board anyway, for East-West would not have been able to make as much as four spades or four hearts.

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