Friday, 24 November 2017

The Finesse in Bridge

Finessing is a way of making a trick with an honour card that would be a certain loser if it was led.

Suppose you are playing as South and you have the following cards in the suit you want to finesse.

Is it possible to win a trick with the King?

If the King is led it will always lose regardless of which opponent holds it. Remember, bridge is played clockwise, so both East and West will play after North - and play the ace on the king if the hold it.

Can you prevent this from happening?

What will happen if instead of leading the King you return to the South hand and lead a low card? Can the Kind win now?

You have a 50-50 chance that the King could win. If the King is in West's hand you can make a trick with it.  If it is in East's hand then the King will lose. 

An Example of Finessing

Here's that hand again

This time you are going to lead a low card from hand and see what card West plays:

  • If W plays the Ace, you can play the low card from dummy, knowing that the King will win next time the suit is played.  
  • If W doesn't play the Ace you play K. If W also holds the Ace, then your King will win the trick.   If the Ace is with East then there is nothing you can do, as E will play the Ace after you have played King.
Finessing Summed Up
Lead a low card towards the honour you are aiming to make.  50% of the time this will win. 

Leading the honour card will always fail.

You can increase your chances of making the finesse by studying the bidding and the play.  If, for example, East opened the bidding and West passed, then you know that W didn't have enough points to respond to East's opening bid.  How many points has W shown before you start finessing?  Would holding the Ace mean that W actually had enough points to respond?  If this is the case, then West's failure to respond to the opening bid would place the Ace with East and your finesse will fail.

Marked Finesse

Unlike a regular finesse, which may fail, a marked finesse is guaranteed to win.

What is a marked finesse?

With a marked finesse we know which opponent has the remaining card(s). 

How can we know?  Because one opponent has already discarded and so is out of cards in the suit.

An Example

Suppose you have the following cards in the suit you are finessing:

Is it possible to make all 4 tricks?  (We are assuming trumps have been drawn or this is a NT contract so that the opponent who has shown out can't trump you.)

If the cards break 3-2 between East and West, you will make 4 tricks and no finessing will be needed.  The same is true if the cards break 4-1 with one opponent holding the Jack as a singleton.

But the singleton might not be the Jack, or the cards might be breaking 5-0.  Now what should you do?

This is the Marked Finesse is used

As an example, supposed you've played one round of the suit, in which W played 9.  You decide to play a second round, but this time W discards.  This means that the outstanding J and 7 must be with West.

Using the Marked Finesse

Just as with a regular finesse you lead low towards the honour you are hoping to make. 

Look at the cards.  You have already played 2 rounds of the suit, so the King and Ace have gone.  If you now lead the Q, East will play the 7, keeping the J to win if the suit is played again.

However, if you cross over to dummy (you did make sure you'd preserved an entry to dummy so you could play the finesse, didn't you???), then you can lead a low card, knowing that East has the J and 7.

Once you've led your low card, one of two things will happen:
  • East plays 7.  You can win with 8, knowing your Q will win next time.  Y
  • East plays J.  You win with the Q and your 8 will win the next round.  y
Now that you know what finessing means, you can head over to No Fear Bridge where you will find lots of hands where you can practice the technique along with tutorials to help reinforce what you've learnt.

Acol bridge players join HERE for your trial membership (no financial details taken unless you decide to continue)
American Standard bridge players join HERE for your trial membership.

No comments:

Post a Comment