Leonard Susskind, a renowned theoretical physicist at Stanford University, said, “Unforeseen surprises are the rule in science, not the exception. Remember: Stuff happens.”

At the bridge table, exceptions keep the game alive. For example, you have J-9-6-4 in the dummy opposite A-Q- 10-7 in your hand. To play that suit for four tricks, you should finesse through your right-hand opponent. It gives you a 50-50 shot at avoiding a loser. Instead, to lead the jack and then to put up the ace wins only when lefty has a singleton king, which has an a priori probability of just under three percent. Mathematically, it is a crazy play. But can you think of any reasons why it would be the right play?

Now look at the North- South hands in today’s diagram. South is in four spades. West cashes the club ace and club king before shifting to a heart. How should South continue?

In the bidding, South’s two-club cue-bid was totally artificial, indicating at least 12 points. The rest of the auction was natural.

I can think of three reasons not to finesse in that suit. The first is fanciful: if you know righty will always cover an honor with an honor, regardless of its stupidity. The second will be the theme of tomorrow’s column.

This deal exhibits the third. Dummy has 14 points and declarer has 13. That leaves only 13 for the opponents, but West opened– he must have the spade king. So, there is no point in taking a losing finesse; you never know, you might get lucky and drop a singleton king.

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