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Intermediate and newcomer players - sharpen your game with this series of tutorials. You can browse the index by topic, or read them in order. Learn even more at ACBL's Learn page.







                                                         Brian Gunnell






♣ K7



            E-W Vulnerable

            South   West     North    East

                                       1         Pass

            1NT      Pass    3NT      Pass

            Pass    Pass


When West led a Spade against 3NT, she offered a “free finesse”, allowing Declarer to score three Spade tricks without having to guess which defender held the Queen.  But was it really “free”?




West            East



♠ K6



♣ QJT92


“How kind of West to lead a Spade”, thought Declarer as he played Dummy’s Jack, covered by the Queen and the King.  Having ensured three Spade tricks, Declarer then paused to look at the whole hand.  But it was a bit late for that, wasn’t it?


At this point, Declarer could count three Spades, one Heart, and two Diamonds, which got him up to six, so he looked to the Club suit to make up the shortfall, leading the ♣K at Trick 2.  But East didn’t have to be a genius to duck this, killing Declarer’s hopes in that suit.  His last hope was a 3-3 Heart break, but that failed too, and Declarer (deservedly) went down in a cold contract.  Would you care to go back to Trick 1 and start over?