Bidding a Six Card Major
             Counting Tricks
             Ruffing Finesse
             Danger Hand

      We evaluate a suit contract in terms of losers. How many; and how do we get rid of them.
     In the November 1999 hand, the loser was TRUMPED in dummy. Other ways to get rid of a loser are to Dump them on winners or to take a Finesse. ( See the April 2000 hand). DUMP, TRUMP & FINESSE are the three ways of eliminating losers. Throwing them away is not really an acceptable Bridge maneuver. Again, think in terms of getting rid of losers by DUMP, TRUMP & FINESSE
      This month's hand will highlight a special finesse called the Ruffing Finesse. This type of finesse enables the Declarer to keep the lead away from the Danger Hand (in this case East).  

South opens 1 S and North responds 2 H, showing 10+ points and most likely a 5 card Heart Suit. 
       South described her hand with the opening bid of 1 S. SHAPE: 5 or more Spades; STRENGTH: 13+ points. South's rebid of 3 S  further defines her hand. 
      By rebidding the Spades she shows at least a 6 card suit; and by jumping to the 3 level she shows a hand with 16+ points. (Count points for Distribution or length.) North with 12 points carries on to game by bidding 4 S. 26 points in the combined hands are needed to be in the game zone. North/South have a minimum of 28 pts. (16 + 12). Note: since South has at least a 6 card Spade suit, North needs only 2 Spades for support. 2 + 6 = 8. Eight cards in a suit in the combined hands is a good trump fit. (see GOLDEN FIT).

The safest (and most informative) lead by West is the top of a two (or more) card sequence.  Besides being a safe lead, the lead can sometimes promote a winning trick. This occurs when partner has an honor in the suit or when the distribution is favorable. So lead the Q D.
        Note: leading from a suit with the Ace and the Queen can never be right. Well, almost never. Maybe once in seven or eight years lead the A C with a hand like West's.

Dummy comes down. Play a small Diamond? No! Declarer must make a plan and a good time to do it is before playing to the first trick. And a good plan is based on counting. In a suit contract Declarer counts losers. 
       Let's do it. The number of losers in North/South's hands is:  0 Spades; 0 Hearts; 1 Diamond; and 3 Clubs. This is 4 losers; which is down 1 at 4 S. One loser too many. What is Declarer going to do? Accept defeat? Leave town? No! The Declarer must find a way of eliminating one of the losers.
      PLAN: Make use of Dummy's Hearts. All that is needed is one Heart winner besides the A H. But what are the consequences of taking the normal finesse by playing 4 H to the Q H. If the finesse loses (East wins the trick with the K H) East bangs down the J C. OOPS (a technical Bridge term), three Club losers for down one. East is the Danger Hand. Do not give him the lead. 
     There is another way to take the Heart finesse which is called the Ruffing Finesse. Play the 4 H to the Ace then play the Q H. If East plays the K H, ruff it. Get back to Dummy with a high trump and cash the good J H,  DUMPING a losing Diamond or Club.
     If East does not play the K H, DUMP a losing Diamond on the Q H. This play keeps East out of the lead. The Danger Hand is made harmless. 
     Why is West not the Danger Hand? Because any of West's leads at this point in the play can be won by Declarer or Dummy. The only exception to this statement is if West leads the A C. However,  after the lead of the Ace, South's K C will be promoted to a winner. Either way, a Club lead by West gives up a trick. And therefore, West cannot do any real harm, and thus does not qualify as a Danger Hand.
      Declarer eventually gets to Dummy with a high trump, and plays the now good J H. On this card, she now DUMPS a losing Club or Diamond. 
      PLAY: Win the A D and play the 4 H to the A H. Now play the Q H. East POPS UP (another Bridge technical term) with the K H,  which you trump. Now get to Dummy with a high Spade, play the other Spade, and then the good J H. You can Dump either a losing Diamond or a losing Club on the J H, it does not matter. You have now reduced your number of losers from four to three.
      Now take the Club finesse for the over trick. Play the 3 C from the table and put in the K C from South's hand. If the King wins, South will make the over trick. But the K C loses to the Ace. South wins any return and pulls the last Trump, making 4 S.

QUESTION: Should you pull trumps before or after taking the Ruffing Finesse?

      There is not much the Defenders can do.  They will just get three tricks: either 3 Clubs or 2 Clubs and 1 Diamond.
.    No opening lead can really hurt Declarer as long as she takes the Ruffing Finesse and keeps an entry to Dummy.