Hand of the Week
After spades had been agreed, four control-showing cuebids followed and you contented yourself with a jump to 6♠. How do you plan to make 12 tricks after West leads the ♦Q?
If you had four entries to dummy, you would take the trump finesse at trick two and, as long as East had at least one of the major-suit kings, use the other entries to take as many finesses as necessary. However, you only have two entries to dummy and so you have to decide which major-suit finesse to take.
When you take the trump finesse and it loses, you are virtually certain to finish with only 11 tricks. This is because you will have only one entry to dummy left to take a heart finesse. This means that you will lose a heart trick unless East has a singleton or doubleton ♥K, not a very likely proposition.
Let’s see what happens if instead you play a heart to the queen at trick two. When the ♥Q holds, you should plan to continue with the ♠A and ♠Q and use the remaining diamond entry to dummy to repeat the heart finesse. Whenever West takes the ♥Q with the king and plays a second diamond to dummy’s king, you will lead a trump and hope that East has a singleton or doubleton king of trumps.
While it is possible West could hold up the ♥K, that is not very likely because he cannot be certain that it is you rather than East who holds the ♥J.
Another way of looking at this is that it’s equally likely for one of the major-suit finesses to succeed. However, if it loses there is more chance of picking up the trump suit with one finesse than it is to achieve the same outcome in hearts. Also, to make six trumps tricks you need East to hold no more than three trumps, which is much less than a 50% chance, whereas the heart finesse has only the restriction that East didn’t begin with seven cards in the suit.