Perfect Practice – The Gee Chronicles
Jan 102003

Both Vul
Dealer: East
Lead: H4

S K Q 9 7 4 3
D K 8 7 5 4
S 6
H A K J 10 3 2
C J 6 4 3 2
[W - E] travis
S J 8 5
H 9 7 5 4
D 10 9 6
C A 10 9
S A 10 2
H Q 8 6
D A Q 3 2
C 8 7 5



4 S

1 D


It isn’t enough to take the practice finesse. You have to know which way to take the practice finesse.

North-South arrive at the spade game after a brief but instructive auction. Gee, North, with a four-loser hand and five-card trump support opposite his partner’s opener, concludes as captain that there is no reason to investigate slam. Accordingly he signs off with 4S, in a six-card spade suit to the KQ9 in which his partner, for all he knows, is void, spurning the more pedestrian bids of 3H, 3C, 3S, double, 4H, 4C, 5D, 6D and one or two others I’m sure I’ve overlooked.

Yet his effort to right-side the hand pays off. Gee ruffs the heart lead, slaps down the king of spades, both defenders following, and finesses the 10 on the second round. It holds and North-South chalk up a glorious 680. The diamond and spade slams are cold, unluckily; and Gee does make a handsome concession in the post mortem:

G: I was too conservative
peterw: did you peek at the SJ Gerard?
G: easy to know where the spades are :)))

  One Response to “Perfect Practice”


    One must admire Gee’s acumen and powers of deduction. He correctly implies that any spade length is likely with his lho on the auction, as his rho had advertised at least 5-5 shape in the rounded suits. The Practice Finesse, therefore, is not a true two-way, for if one is to take a spade finesse it must surely be through the opponent with the implied length. O you say, but is it not possible that Gee’s rho is 2515, or 2605, or 2506, and that the finesse could easily lose to Jx? Of course it is, but that is what makes the finesse one of being taken only for practice, and what Gee has really shown us is a subtle demonstration of his master play technique, for all one has to do is imagine that the real final contract is a slam, and that Gee has now found the only way to go bait when all he (or even the STCP for that matter) had to do was PT&C (Pull Trumps and Claim) After all, having cashed the spade king and seeing both opponents follow one would know there were only two more spades extant. To heck with that ‘eight ever, nine never’ saw. Of course this assumes that any declarer would be able to count to thirteen, even a STCP, and most certainly so if it were only in one suit, and that suit were trump. But Gee’s demonstration was more subtle, as he intimated with his (poignant as usual) comment. He showed all that count doesn’t matter, especially in situations where a master can deduce length and shortness, and in whose hand they lie.

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