A snare and a delusion
You are south, dealer at game all in a teams match and pick up this promising collection:
S AQ52 H AK3 D QJ73 C A8
You probably decide to open 2NT. (as an aside: In my view the hand is rock bottom for this action. If partner passes and puts down his usual load of rubbish you will be lucky to make 5 tricks. The pairs who open 2NT on 19-20 points must be used to writing -300 on a regular basis!).
Anyway (rant over) partner raises to 3NT, everybody passes and West plonks the Queen of Hearts on the table. Dummy goes down and you see
The golden rule is to count your tricks. Well you have two hearts, two clubs and a minimum of three diamonds and two spades making nine tricks. So what’s the problem? The answer lies in the question of what happens if both missing kings are badly placed? Maybe you win the second heart and finesse the diamond. This loses and back comes a heart knocking out your last stop. However when you cross to the club king and the spade finesse also loses West has two more heart tricks to put you one down.
The keen student at this point shouts out “ Well you should have taken
the spade finesse first so that if the diamond finesse also loses East has no
heart to return unless they were 4-4 in the first place in which case there was
no problem anyway.”
That is certainly an improvement but the full hand was
S KT8 S 9743
H QJT76 H 752
D 842 D K6
C J5 C QT93
What actually happened was that when West won the spade king he
realized that there was no point in clearing the hearts
as he had no further entry. Accordingly he played the
Jack of clubs! That set up two Club winners in East's hand and, when the
Diamond finesse failed, declarer lost a Spade, a Heart, two Clubs and
a Diamond. Should the contract have been made?
The Spade finesse is a snare and a delusion! Even if East has the King of Spades you can make no more than two Spade tricks (if East has K he will cover the J and hold you to two tricks with AQ). So..... You should win the second round of Hearts and immediately play a small Spade to the Jack! You can sit and work out all the possible distributions of all the cards that might exist but there are none that will beat you. When you take the Diamond finesse East will be unable to play back a Heart unless they were 4-4 originally - in which case you only lose two Hearts and two Kings.