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Which card to promote ?

When you have a choice of cards to promote, it is usually best to try to promote your lower card first. Put another way, when you’re missing two (or more) high cards, finesse against their lower card. You’ll do this by taking a “deep finesse”. Take these combinations:
  • 1)  KJ2 facing  543
  • 2)  KJ10 facing  432
  • 3)  Q109 facing  654
  • 4)  AQ10 facing  642
  • 5)  AJ9 facing  643
  • 6)  K108 facing  542
1) Your only chance of promoting both  K and  J is to lead  3 to the lower  J first, hoping the second hand holds both  A and  Q. If  J wins (lucky you), cross back and lead  4 towards  K.

2) Lead  2 to  10 (or  J), finessing against  Q. If the second player holds  Q, either  10 will win or bring out  A (you don’t mind). You’ll later lead  3 to  J Erroneously lead to  K first and you can only win one trick.

3) Needing one trick, lead  4 to  9 (or  10), hoping the second player holds  J. If  9 forces out  K, later lead to  10. Leading to  Q first would work only if the second player held both  A and  K.

4) Lead to  10 first, the deep finesse, your only chance of promoting  10. If you have 25 per cent luck and the second hand holds both  K and  J,  10 will win. You can cross back and lead  4 to  Q.

5) Lead  3 to  9 first, finessing against  10. Say the second player holds  Q10 (or  K10).  9 will draw  K, enabling you later to lead  4 to  J.

6) If you need a quick trick and cannot lose two tricks first, lead to  K. However if you have time, you may be able to promote a trick with  A offside — see deal.

South Deals
None Vul
A Q 10
8 4 2
K 10 8
A K Q 10
9 8 6 3 2
10 7 6
J 9 3
8 3
W   E
7 4
Q J 9 3
A Q 7 6
9 6 2
K J 5
A K 5
5 4 2
J 7 5 4
West North East South
      1 N
Pass 4 N1 All pass  
  1. Quantitative try for 6 NT. Normally, North would have 19 or 20 to invite (there cannot quite be 33 points, holding 18 facing 12-14) but he likes his three tens.

A heart lead would have defeated 4 NT but West naturally led a spade (a high-for-hate  9). With nine top tricks, declarer needed one diamond trick (doubtless cursing his partner for not settling for 3 NT). Winning  J, he led  2 to  8 — the deep finesse. East won  Q and switched to  Q. Winning  K, declarer led  4 to  10 (East winning  Q suggested West held  J). East won  A but  K was promoted and 4 NT made.

If  2 to  8 had lost to East’s  9, declarer would have had to hope West held  A and led to  K next. Which means a very Machiavellian East holding  QJ9 will win  8 with  J or  Q.


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