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Article published in the French magazine Le Bridgeur in march 2014, by Jérôme Rombaut.

A paradoxical finesse

 

The aim of the handicap system is always to provide opportunities for less experienced players. The new Funbridge tournament has fully served this purpose at the expense of our columnist.

This month, we launched a new elimination tournament on Funbridge with an iPad to win, but above all with a new handicap formula. Handicap varies from -80 to +80 IMPs, with most of handicaps between +20 and -20 IMPs. The handicap principle is that it must be high enough to enable each player to start with the same chances of winning the tournament. With more than 2,000 players registered, each player’s chances of winning are quite minimal. Each round consists of 25 deals and 2 rounds are played per week. The sixth round is currently being played, with some good results already. For instance, a player has managed to pass her first 5 rounds, conceding 5 (narrow) defeats in scratch scoring, but her +22 handicap allowed her to win her 5 matches! The final is scheduled to take place at the end of March…

Here is a deal from the second round:

S 8 4
H A 10 6 5 4
D A K Q
C 8 7 5
orienation
S R 5 3
H K J
D 7 5 4
C K Q J 4 2

 

Bidding:

SOUTHWESTNORTHEAST
1C1S2HPASS
2NTPASS3NT

 

How do you play 3NT when the lead is Q♠?

The problem lies in how to handle hearts. Here are a few rules when you are looking for a queen and you are not in a case of cumulative chances:
• Don’t necessarily look for the queen in the overcaller’s hand. The fact that a player has overcalled in a suit has no impact on his chances of holding a queen.
• You should better look for the queen in the assumed long side of the suit, i.e. often in the hand of the overcaller’s partner.
These are the basic rules. Of course, you must be able to adapt them according to circumstances.
Here, in order to stack the odds in your favour, you must finesse East. Indeed, if you play the queen in West, you will take 5 tricks only if it is a 3-card suit headed by the queen (a 2-card suit headed by the queen would not bring you anything). But if you finesse East, you will win as soon as the 2-card or 3-card suit will be headed by the queen.
Even if the doubleton will be much more often in West, here you must play it in East to improve your chances and of course, it was the case for this deal!
This deal didn’t cause any difference and I lost my match by 5 IMPs. I was 51 IMPs behind and managed to catch up 46 of them only. I wish good luck to Mariejade for the rest of the tournament!

Here are the four hands:

S 8 4 
H A 10 6 5 4
D A K Q
C 8 7 5
S A Q J 9 6
H 9 8 7 2 
D 8 3 
C A 9
orientationS  10 7 2
H Q 3
D J 10 9 6 2
C 10 6 3
S R 5 3
H K J
D 7 5 4
C K Q J 4 2