By Prof Tony Campbell CBE

ON several occasions when playing bridge, we have seen how useful the double finesse is in order to make a contract or win overtricks.

A typical example of the conditions for a double finesse is where you hold the ace, jack and ten in a suit, but are missing the king and queen. A good example of this turned up last week in the Penarth-Sully bridge clubs online bridge session.

In this case, interestingly, there is the opportunity to take a double finesse in two suits.

The Auction

East opened with a weak no trump, and South felt it worth overcalling two diamonds holding a reasonable five card suit. West would have passed if South had not bid.

But he now felt he needed to compete, even though his heart suit was rather weak. North also was rather ambitious with his three-diamond bid.

He knew his partner, South, must have five diamonds for his bid, and hoped he might even have six. East, with four hearts, was happy to compete with three hearts, which was passed out.

The play

North decided to lead his partner’s suit. But which card? In the end he decided to count the ten as an ‘honour’ and led the five of diamonds.

Declared played low from dummy, the trick being won by South’s king. Hoping his partner, North, held the queen and ten of diamonds, South returned a small diamond, which was won by declarer, West, with his queen.

He then played the jack of hearts, the start of the first double finesse. North played low, as did dummy, the trick being won by South’s queen.

Worried that declarer might hold the queen of spades, South then continued with a small diamond, the trick being won by dummy’s ace, declarer discarding the six of spades. Declarer then started the second double finesse by playing the ten of clubs from dummy.

South played low, as did declarer, the trick being won by North’s king. North then decided to attack spades, and so led the queen at the next trick.

Declarer won this with dummy’s ace and paused to consider the hand. He could play a club to his ace and ruff a third club, which would win if the clubs were three-three.

But, after some thought, he decided to take the double finesse in clubs, after all South had overcalled with two diamonds and must have some points. So, he led the two of clubs, playing the jack from his own hand which won.

He then took the double finesse in trumps, by playing the two of hearts from his hand, finessing against North’s king by playing the nine of hearts from dummy.

This won, and the ace of hearts then dropped North’s king. Declarer returned to hand by ruffing a spade, followed by the ace of clubs, dropping South’s queen.

West as declarer then claimed the rest of the tricks, with two more clubs and the last trump in dummy, making ten tricks in all – one spade, three hearts in dummy and a heart ruff in hand, two diamonds and three clubs.

Well played. Interestingly, if South decides not to overcall two diamonds, one no trump may only make eight tricks, with the defence, North-South, making three diamonds, the king of clubs and the queen of hearts.

Though if East plays carefully he may be able to make nine tricks – one spade, three hearts, two diamonds and three clubs.

What have we learnt?

1. When you have the ace, jack, and ten in a suit, it is always worth considering the double finesse. This is a good percentage play, winning when the other two honours are split between both opponents, or when the player before the ace holds both of the other two honours.

2. Competitive bidding at pairs, and teams, requires great judgement. Here both sides competed North-South losing out to East-West.

Penarth club results

Here are the results of last week from the Penarth-Sully online bridge, details and the hands are available on the Penarth Bridge Club web site.

Click on Results and then the date.

Wednesday 16th June; 1. Tony Campbell and John Holloway (68.8%); 2. Irene Thomas and Carolyn Matthews (51.3%); 3. John Pikoulis and Meryl Skipper (48.8%).

Friday 18th June; 1. Simon Brindle and Tony Campbell (63.0%); 2 =. Mike Downey and Joy Seculer with Marnie Owens and Peter Craig (62.0%).

Please contact me or Meryl if you want to join. Peter Sampson’s Spring ladder was won by Jenny Vaughan and Nalini Dewan who beat Angela and Rod Hudson 56.5 % to 43.5%. Well played.

Further information

If you have any views, hands, and information you would like to share, please email me, My articles are available online. Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance.