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Playing For Game

The Declarer should never take a finesse or make any other play which,
if it succeed, gains one or more tricks, but which, if it fail, risks
the fulfilment of an otherwise assured contract. Having once made sure
of his bid, he should apply a similar rule to the winning of the game.
An extra trick counts comparatively little, but the failure to carry
out a contract or to capture a game may alter the result of the rubber.

The game is, of course, far more important than the contract, and the
Declarer, when he has a reasonable chance of obtaining it, should, if
necessary, risk his declaration. On the other hand, his opponents
should save the game beyond peradventure, even if by so doing they lose
an opportunity to defeat the Declarer.

A couple of examples will show this more clearly than pages of

Suppose, the score being love, the Declarer, who has bid three Royals,
has about exhausted the possibilities of his cards. He has won eight
tricks and has the lead in his own hand, with an Ace and Queen of the
same suit in the Dummy. One more trick will fulfil his contract, two
will give him game. The development of the play has shown that the
adversaries will make the rest of the tricks whenever they obtain the
lead, and consequently, if he finesse and lose, the eight tricks
already taken will be all he will secure, his Ace will "die," and he
will be "one down."

He is without information as to the location of the King; neither
adversary has declared, and neither has by discard or otherwise in the
play given a reliable hint as to the absence or presence of the
all-important card.

His duty is plain. By finessing he may lose 27 points and a penalty of
50, 77 in all, but the finesse gives him an even chance to win the
game; and whether it be the rubber, with its premium of 250, or merely
the first game, but still a most important advance toward the goal, he
should take his chance, realizing that the value of the object for
which he is striving is far greater than the 77 he may lose.

Under similar conditions, however, if the Trump be Diamonds, the
finesse should be refused. It would then take three more tricks to make
game, and but two are possible. One completes the contract, and winning
the finesse adds only 7 points, less than one-tenth of the 71 placed in

The 21 points in the trick column assured by refusing the finesse are,
viewed from a practical standpoint, just as near a game as 28 would be,
but 21 makes the bidding for game on the next deal much easier than if
the effort to win the extra 7 had resulted in the score remaining at
love. In this case, therefore, not only when the chances are equal, but
even when unmistakable inferences of declaration and play indicate that
the success of the finesse is almost assured, the opportunity should be

"Penny-wise and pound-foolish" aptly characterizes a player who would
risk advantage of position and 71 points for the chance of gaining a
paltry 7.

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