Bridge Basics 1UC3 Main

The Finesse

by Richard Pavlicek

An important technique in card play is the finesse, which may allow you to win a trick with a card that is not the highest card in the suit played. Six examples are shown here. Dummy’s holding is indicated first, with your holding as declarer immediately below.

 1. 4 3 2 A Q J

Lead the two and, if the king does not appear, play the jack. If this wins, lead a different suit to reach dummy and repeat the procedure. You will win three tricks if right-hand opponent (RHO) has the king.

 2. 4 3 2 A J 10

Lead the two and, if no honor appears, play the 10. This is likely to lose to the king or queen. Later lead the three and, if no honor appears, play the jack. You will win two tricks if RHO has the king or queen.

 3. 4 3 2 K J 5

Lead the two and, if no ace or queen appears, play the jack. If this wins or loses to the queen, later lead up to the king. You will win two tricks if RHO has both the ace and queen; one trick if he has either.

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 4. Q 3 2 K 10 5 4

Lead the four and, if the ace does not appear, play the queen. Whether it wins or loses, next time lead the two and, if the jack does not appear, play the 10. You will win at least one and possibly three tricks.

 5. A 3 2 K J 6 5 4

Win the ace first (you might drop a singleton queen) then lead the two and, if the queen does not appear, play the jack. If RHO has the queen and the missing cards split 3-2, you will win five tricks.

 6. A 10 3 2 K J 5 4

This is a two-way finesse. If you think RHO has the queen, win the ace first then lead toward your jack. If you think LHO has the queen, win the king then lead toward dummy’s 10. Are you a good guesser?

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