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Finesse With Finesse - Bridge 214

A "finesse" in general terms is often defined as managing by adroit maneuvering.

In bridge the term finesse means winning a trick with a card of a suit even though the opponents hold a higher card in the suit.

North
A J Q 10
West East
K? 7 K ?
South
2 3 4 5

Thus, in the hand above when South plays the 2 and then plays the jack after West plays the 7, South hopes that the king is in the West hand..a 50% chance.

Although most bridge players are familiar with this basic finesse it is important to note that finesses often need a lot of planning.

In bridge the concept of adroit maneuvering has many variations. Consider the following hands: 

Hand 1

North
A Q J 10
♠ A 4 5 9
WestEast
K ? K ?
South
2 3 4 5
♠ K Q 6 7 8

How should South play this hand in No Trump to maximize tricks? Consider the entry problem. If South plays the spades first, South cannot then return to the South hand enough times to take all the diamond finesses . 

Hand 2

North
A 2 3 4
WestEast
K ?Q ?
South
J 10 9 5

How do you play this hand for 3 tricks , assuming you have enough entries when you are missing two important cards. There are three possibilities: Both honors in the West, both in East or split between the defenders. Only when both honors are in the East do you lose 2 tricks. Thus, if you finesse twice you have a 75% chance of taking 3 tricks.

Hand 3

Frequently when you play a hand you encounter the situation below and need to decide which way to finesse. 

North
♠ 6 7
K J 10 3
WestEast
QQ
South
♠ K 8 9
A 9 5 6

Sometimes it might be that you have a dangerous opponent, one you do not want to allow to get on lead. Thus, on this hand you are concerned about your king of spades and cannot allow East to be on lead. As a result you need to play the jack from the North hand since if you lose the trick and a spade is led your king is protected.

Another finessing technique used when there is no danger hand or other helpful information about the location of an opponent's honor is to try a "fake finesse". In the hand above, looking at just the heart suit and disregarding the spade suit, lead the jack of hearts from the North hand. Most times East will cover an honor with an honor and play the queen.

If the opponent does not cover, most likely they do not have it. So, then lead the 9 from declarer's hand and finesse the other way! 

Hand 4

Finally, leading an honor is not always the correct way to finesse.

North
Q 6 3
WestEast
South
A 2 5

Leading the queen in this situation will result in your losing 2 tricks. Opponents will cover your queen thereby allowing them to take 2 with their king, jack and 10, wherever they may be located. Instead, play the ace first in case the opponents' king is a singleton and falls. When it does not, then lead low to your queen in case the king is held by West, a 50 percent chance.

A finesse in bridge begins with a 50-50 percent chance, but try to increase these odds in your favor by considering any information you can deduce from the bidding or hand play and then using these techniques.

May all of your finesses be winning ones!

 

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Friday, 02 December 2022

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