thinking out possible contingencies beforehand, either defender may err by making a play that is inferior. If your side is defending, the one who is sitting third should pause before playing to the trick and ask herself similar questions.
For those who either love or hate these, this is the last example I have of this play. Of course, I can’t promise I won’t have another later. This last one was given to me by Walt Walvick many years ago. It illustrates the height of artistry to which one take the idiot’s finesse. Even ostensibly dull hands such as West’s may become exciting.
Walt Walvick and Mike Garner cooperated beautifully to defeat six no trump which seems to be cold. Declarer won the opening lead of on the opening spade lead in dummy and seeing only one source for a twelfth trick, led a small diamond to the six hoping the suit would break three three, three.
Mike, sitting West, won this with the diamond jack instead of the seven! After running off his winners, declarer declarer laid down his ace of diamonds. Walt contributed to the confusion by following with his queen. Mike played seven the ten. Now when declarer led the the three of diamonds from dummy, Mike was able to follow with the seven, and perhaps dazzled by all the losing to the nine. e high cards that had appeared in the suit, declarer finessed the eight, losing to the nine. It was a very unlucky hand because he was playing against these defenders.
Incidentally, the most important technique to master in successfully executing an idiot’s finesse is to refrain from laughing while declarer is thinking. When you you have have successfully presented an opportunity for declarer to take an idiot’s finesse you should look at him or her. You should never look at your partner. It is impossible for you and your partner to look at each other and keep straight faces.
Most of my partners, though incredulous at first that these could actually work, began to believe that sometimes these plays could actually catch somebody. One of them, Ed Shapiro, continued to scoff until we defended this hand:
Ed had insisted that idiot’s finesses couldn’t work. Playing with Ed and defending against two spades I led the king of hearts. and upon receiving the ten from Ed, continued with the ace and another which he ruffed with the spade ten and returned a diamond.
Declarer won this and led a spade to the king under which Ed dropped the spade jack. Declarer continued with a small spade from dummy. Ed played small. When Ed played small declarer started thinking. At this point Ed started laughing. When everyone turned to look at him, he stopped, but upon declarer’s continued thought he he broke up again. He explained he had thought about something funny that had happened the previous day. Finally, declarer, muttering something about it being a complete guess, put in the nine. I won the queen and cashed two diamonds to defeat two spades a trick. As we left the table I could hear declarer’s frenzied partner explaining that Ed with QJ10x of spades would not have played them in that order.
|Pass||1 Club||1 Spade||2 Diamonds|
|Pass||2 Hearts||Pass||2 NT|
The opening lead was the ten of spades Here is the complete hand:
♣ The next sucessful one I had was initiated by an unfortunate lead. Here is the auction:
My partner led a small heart.
Declarer called for the heart ten. Being aquainted with my partner’s opening leads, I smoothly ducked it. Declarer now finessed the jack of diamonds. I won and shifted to the queen of spades which declarer won in his his hand. After cashing diamonds declarer knocked out the ace of clubs. My partner won and returned a spade which was won in dummy. Declarer now crossed to his hand with the king of hearts to cash his good club. My partner, who was well versed in idiot’s finesses, dumped the dueen of hearts under the king. After the ten of clubs had failed to drop, declarer led a small heart and my partner followed with a small one.
Again, declarer had a finessing position which he shouldn’t have had. Surely, thought declarer, my partner had led small from the QJxx of hearts. I hadn’t been able to beat the ten at trick one. After thinking about it for a while declarer finessed the nine, and I won the last two tricks.
I was reading in Linda’s blog about the future of bridge. In The first regional open pairs I won I played Swith Sidney Aronson. He told me that in the forties the most prestiguous event was the life masters individual pairs. The winner of that won two masterpoints. Second overall won one. Those were all the masterpoints the event awarded. There were no section tops and no other overall awards. I joined the ACBL in the early to mid early sixties. I was somewhat aware that the ACBL had just changed its overall and section awards by increasing the number of masterpoints for finishing overall or doing well in a section. I met Ed Lazarus at a Philadelphia tournament. He asked me how many masterpoints I had. I think I had about fifty then. Ed knew how I played so he asked me why I wasn’t a life master. I told him I hadn’t been playing long enough.
This has continued. The last national, excuse me, NABC, I played in was 2003 I was introduced to the president of the ACBL at the time. He asked me if there was anything he could do for me. I said there was– stop masterpoint inflation. He said, “I can’t do that. ” There is no good way to compare presernt players to those of the past.The top players know who is at their level, but there is no easy way to truly rank players. I guess we could rank players as they do in golf by keeping track of how many majors they have won. That is complicated by bridge being a partnership game and the presence of professional players and sponsors.
We have seen drug and cheating incidents in major sports. Policing any irregularities by ultimately relying on committees of players who ofen may be intimidated by one of the protesters does not seem ideal.
As for the future of bridge, a game manufacturer I knew told me Americans don’t like to have to think. Add to that the popularity of working out or playing sports or and computers and video games, It seems more people would rather have something in which they can be active. They know participating in physical activity is important for their health. At least we don’t have to play in smoke filled rooms anymore.
Most books dealing with defensive techniques in bridge teach subjects such as counting declarer’s high card points. They discuss the various defensive tools such as unblocks, holdups and false cards. However, no book I have read touches the combination of unblock and false card called the ‘idiot’s finesse.’ Why is it named an idiot’s finesse? Because only a declarer who is not too bright could fall for such a ploy.
The idea behind an idiot’s finesse is to give the declarer an opportunity to go wrong when there would be none. A basic example is this:
Qx Jx (you)
Declarer leads leads to his king, and you holding Jx play small. Declarer now leads small back to his hand and your jack makes him play the ace dropping your partner’s queen. What if instead you were to play the jack on the first round of the suit? Now when declarer leads towards his ace you play small. Now it becomes possible for him to put in the eight and lose to your partner’s queen. Certainly some declarer might think, “This an example of restricted choice. The jack was already played, and there is a finessing position.”
It could never happen, you might think. You would be surprised. My first experience with an idiot’s finesse was almost as simple as that.:
Sitting West and defending against six spades I led the queen of diamonds. Declarer knocked out the ace of spades, and I continued with the jack of diamonds. After drawing trumps declarer led a club to the jack which naturally won and led a club back to the ace upon which I followed by playing the queen.
Now declarer ran his tricks hoping something good would happen. Seeing he had no other recourse, at trick twelve he led a small club towards dummy’s king nine. When I followed with a small club declarer remembered that the queen had dropped, and that the ten was still out. After due deliberation he finessed the nine, losing the last two tricks. Of course these plays don’t always work. Sometimes declarer ‘guesses’ corrrectly.
While in matchpoints you generally go with the odds, you should be aware that the The odds may not be favorable in every suit. In IMPs or rubber bridge overtricks are not nearly as important as they are in matchpoints or board a match . You have to be aware the that it is very possible some suit will break in a way that is least favorable and should look for a line of play that will to ensure making your contract even though one or more suits may break worse than is to be expected to be the acording to be the the most likely percentages .