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Don’t Panic this FLaP

There are three basic methods of making extra tricks (apart from using trumps, and more advanced endplay techniques).

  1.  By Force: using one sequential card to flush out an opposing higher card, in order to promote other(s). E.g. Kx facing QJx. Lead the king to flush out the ace, so promoting QJ.
  2. By Length: exhausting the opponents of all their cards in a suit in which you have more cards in one hand. Those extra card(s) in your longer length are now winners by virtue of their length.
  3. By Position - “the finesse”. This third method of making extra tricks revolves around the relative position of a high card that you are are trying to promote, and the opposing higher card.

Take: 

  North
K 2
 
West
A 5
  East
7 6
  South
4 3
 

You can promote North’s king, by leading from the opposite hand (South); if West, crucially playing before North, rises with the ace, North plays the two, and his king is promoted; if (more likely) West plays the five, you play North’s king, which scores the trick.
It is the relative position of the king and ace that is all-important - can you see what would happen if East (not West) held the ace? Leading towards North’s king is the simplest example of a finesse.

South Deals
Both Vul
A Q 8
Q J 8 3 2
K 9 4
10 6
10 5 2
10 6
A 8 3 2
K Q J 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
9 7 6 3
Q J 10 7
A 8 7 5 2
 
K J 4
A K 9 7 5 4
6 5
9 4
West North East South
      1 1
Pass 4  Pass Pass
Pass      
  1. 11-point hands with good six-card majors should always open the bidding.

What happened
West cashed  KQ against our featured 4  game; at Trick Three he switched (cleverly) to  2. Declarer played low (oops), so East won  10 and led back to West’s  A. Down one.
What should have happened
Declarer should have risen with  K at Trick Three - a finesse - his only hope being that West holds  A. Success! He now draws trumps, and merely loses the second round of diamonds at the end.
If you remember just one thing...
A card on its own (i.e. without a sequential card) can be promoted, if the opposing higher card is in the hand playing first (i.e. to its right).

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