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Sharp Instincts

Dlr:
North
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ 8 7 6
J
Q 4 3
♣ A Q J 9 6 3
South
♠ K J 10 5
A Q 7 6
A J 8
♣ 10 2
West North East South
1NT
Pass 3NT All Pass

In an expert game, a successful finesse is often not what it seems. In this deal from the International Team Trials in 1991, Bob Hamman’s radar was up and working, allowing him to land a contract that went down two at three other tables. Hamman was South.

The deal was played in the semifinal round, and the contract at each of the four tables was 3NT by South. At every table, West led a low heart. At the other three tables, South went down two.

Not Hamman.

When the J held the trick after West’s opening lead, Hamman played a low spade from dummy, inserting the jack when East played low. A low club went to dummy’s queen, and East had to duck to give the defense a chance. Another spade was played from the table, and East hopped up with the ace.

On the return of the 10, Hamman gave his next move a lot of thought before playing the A. Forsaking a second finesse in clubs, Hamman played the ♣10 to the ace and followed with a third round of spades. He took the ♠Q with the king, cashed the ♠10 and put the Q on the table.

West could cash three heart tricks, but was forced to lead away from the K at the end.

Hamman had done what three other expert declarers had failed to do.

The full deal:

Dlr:
West
Vul:
Both
North
♠ 8 7 6
J
Q 4 3
♣ A Q J 9 6 3
West
♠ 9 4 3
K 9 8 3 2
K 6 2
♣ 8 5
East
♠ A Q 2
10 5 4
10 9 7 5
♣ K 7 4
South
♠ K J 10 5
A Q 7 6
A J 8
♣ 10 2