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IBR 15.1  Types of finesse
The fundamental purpose of a finesse is to either
 win a trick by
avoiding Opponent's high card : an Indirect
finesse
or
 win a trick by catching Opponent's high card : a
Direct finesse
Here follow descriptions of the various types.
1. Simple Indirect finesse
In an Indirect finesse a low
card is
lead from one
hand towards an almost high
card in
the other,
trying to avoid being
captured
by a higher
card of the Opponents.
An Indirect finesse has a 50% chance of
success of
winning 1 extra trick.
♣ x x > x
→ x
Q A ♣
 
 ♦ x x >
x →
x x
K ♦

♥ A x >
x →
x x
Q ♥ 

 ♠ K J x >
x ↔ x <
10 A ♠
(Twoway finesse)

2. Multiple Indirect finesse
In a Multiple Indirect finesse a low
card is lead
from one
hand towards two or three touching
Honours in the
other,
trying to avoid being
captured
by a higher
card of the Opponents.
A Multiple Indirect finesse has a 50% chance of
success. If the
finesse is successful, it can be taken again for a second or even
third
time. Even if
the finesse fails one or more additional winners have been
secured.
♣ x x > x
→
x J Q A ♣
 
 ♦ x x >
x →
x Q
K ♦

♥ x x >
x →
10 J
Q A ♥
 
 ♠ x x >
x →
x J Q
K ♠

3. Direct finesse
In an Direct finesse a high
card is
lead from one
hand towards a higher card in
the
other, trying
to capture the Opponent's
almost
high card.
For an Direct finesse you need to have 4 of the top
5 or 6
cards to
succeed. Even when the finesse fails it will produce one or
more
extra winner.
A Direct finesse has a 50% chance of
success.
♠ 10 J >
Q
→ x x x A
♠
 
 ♥ 9 10 >
J →
x x K
A ♥

4. Double finesse
In an Double finesse the Opponents hold two Honour cards in
the
suit concerned.
A Double finesse usually fails the
first time and has to be taken twice. A Double finesse
can be a
Direct or an
Indirect finesse. "With 8 cards or less, double finesse
!"
If you can afford to lose one trick a Double finesse has a
76% chance of
winning 2 out of 3 tricks.
♠ 9 10 >
J
→ x x x A
♠
 
 ♥ x x >
9 →
x 10 Q A ♥

♦ x x >
x →
9 10 K A ♦
 
 ♣ x x > x
→
9 10 J A ♣

5. Ruffing finesse
A Direct finesse where a high
card in
one hand is
lead towards a void in the
other.
If LHO covers, ruff the trick, if LHO plays low discard a loser
from a
side suit :
♥ J Q >
K →
 ♥
With a singleton ♣ 10 J Q
>
A →
x ♣ :
lead
the A♣ first, then Q♣ for a ruffing finesse.
6. Deep finesse
In an Deep finesse the Opponents hold three Honour cards in
the
suit concerned.
A Deep finesse usually fails the
first time and has to be taken twice.
The chance of success depends on the actual card combination
held
♠ x x > x
→ 9 Q A
♠
 
 ♥ x x >
x →
9 J A ♥

♦ x x >
x →
9 J K ♦
 


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IBR 15.2  Probabilities of
Success
Here follow a list of the statistical probability of success
for the various finesse types as published in the ACBL Bridge
Encyclopedia, Edition 2011.
 100% : Direct
finesse  ♠ 10 J
> Q
→
x x (x) A
Always gains one or more extra tricks when
the finesse fails (a 50% chance)
100% : Multiple Indirect
finesse 
♥ (x) x > x
→
10 J
Q A ♥
Always gains one or more extra tricks
when the finesse fails (a 50% chance)
 79% : Deep finesse
 ♥ x x
> x
→
9 J K ♥
79%
chance of winning 1 trick out of 3
 25% chance of winning
2 tricks out of 3
 76% : Double
finesse
♠ x x > x
→
10 Q A
♠

♥ 9 10 > J
→
x x (x) A
♥
♦ x x > x
→
10 J A
♦

♣ x x >
x
→ x
J K
♣
76% chance of gaining at least 1 extra
trick from 2
finesses
 68% : 32
split when Opponents hold 5
cards in the
combined hands
♠ K x x x
↔ x
x x A
♠

♥ x x x
↔ x
x x K
A ♥
68% chance of gaining one (with 44) or
two (with 53) extra tricks
 63% : Deep finesse
 ♥ x x
> x
→
9 Q A ♥
63% chance of gaining one extra
trick from 2 finesses
 50% : Simple
Indirect finesse
♠ x x > x
→
x
Q A ♠

♥ x x > x
→ x
x
K ♥
50% chance of gaining one extra
trick
 38% : Deep finesse
 ♥ x x
> x
→
9 J A ♥
38%
chance of winning 2 tricks if 2nd player plays low
50% chance of winning
2 tricks if 2nd players plays K or Q
 35% : 33
split when Opponents hold 6
cards in the
combined hands
♣ x x x
↔
x x K
A ♣

♦ x x
↔ x
x x K
A ♦
35% chance of gaining one (with 43) or
two
(with 52) extra
tricks
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IBR 15.3  Finesse thinking
Always ask yourself the following three questions when considering
a finesse.
 Is taking this Finesse the best option for making my
contract ?
 Can this Finesse endanger my contract ?
 When should I take this Finesse ?
Here follow three typical examples illustrating the above.
Example 1 Contract : 3NT
Lead : Q♠
Declarer holds up the first trick and wins the second
(J♠ lead) with his K♠. What now ? Declarer counts
8 sure winners, so he needs to develop one trick more. An indirect
finesse of the K♦ is one
possibility, but it has only a 50% chance of success.


Declarer (W)
♠ A K 9
♥ A K Q
♦ 8 5 3
♣ K 7 5 4

 Dummy (E)
♠ 7 3
♥ 9 6 2
♦ A Q 4 2
♣ A 9 3 2


With 8 clubs in the combined hands a much better option is
to play for a 32 split of Opponents'' card in the suit, which
has a 68% chance of success.
Declarer therefore leads and wins his K♣ (trick 3), then
(trick 4) plays a low &club; in both hands.
 If both Opponents follow suit to the second ♣ trick Declarer's contract is safe,
having secured three ♣ winners
in total. He wins Opponent's 3rd ♠ lead with his A♠.
 If, on the other hand, one Opponent shows out in ♣ (are split 41), Declarer still has
the option of finessing the
K♦.
Holding up the first ♠ trick is vital, for after three
rounds of that suit South will have not ♠ left in case they
were divided 53. It is therefore safe to take the ♦ finesse. For if it now fails to
South, he will either have no ♠ left to lead to his Partner
(53 split), or if he has the ♠ are divided 44 in which
case the opponents will win only one more ♠ trick (4 tricks
in total).
Conclusion
Playing for the 32 ♣ split is a much better option (68%)
than taking a single finesse (50%). But by holding up the first
♠ trick you can do the ♦ finesse too, provided you do the
finesse last !

Example 2 Contract : 3NT
Lead : Q♦
Declarer wins the first trick with Dummy's K♦ (no need to hold up once in this
case). Declarer counts 8 sure winners and therefore has to develop
one trick more. The obvious choice is ♣ in which
Declarer can play for the drop of Opponents' Q♣ or
finesse it in either direction. Which option
should Declarer take ?


Declarer (W)
♠ K 9 2
♥ A K 3
♦ 6 3
♣ K J 9 6 4

 Dummy (E)
♠ 7 5
♥ Q J 9 6
♦ A K 2
♣ A 10 8 3


The danger lies in Declarer's unprotected K♠ and
South is the danger man. If South gains the lead he can lead
a ♠ (perhaps a Q♠, a J♠ or a 10♠) so
that North can capture Declarer's King with the A♠ in which
case Declarer will lose 4 (or even 5) tricks in spades
alone.
Declarer must therefore make sure that South
does not gain the lead. Playing for the Q♣ to drop on the
second club trick is therefore not an option. The club finesse has
therefore to be taken so that North and not South gains
the lead it if the finesse fails.
Therefore at trick 2 the A♣ is played from Dummy, followed by
the 10♣. If South plays low, Declarer plays low too.
 If North plays a low ♣ too,
Dummy leads the 8♣ for a second
finesse.
 If North wins with the Q♣,
he can not harm Declarer regardless what he leads next.
In either case Declarer's contract is secured with at least 4
tricks in the ♣ suit.
Conclusion When holding an unprotected
King : avoid giving the lead to the Opponent sitting
under (to the right of) the hand of the unprotected King.

Example 3 Contract : 3NT
Lead : Q♥
Declarer holds up once, then wins trick 2 with his K♥. He can count 6 sure winners and therefore needs to develop three more tricks to secure his 3NT contract. Extra tricks are available through finesses in both ♣ and ♠.


Declarer (W)
♠ Q J 9
♥ A 6
♦ K 7 4 3
♣ A 10 6 2

 Dummy (E)
♠ A 10 7 6
♥ K 7 3
♦ A 8 2
♣ Q J 9


If one finesse fails Declarer will need the second one to gather enough tricks.
So which finesse should be taken first ? The possible danger lies in North holding 5 hearts (the ♥ suit breaking 53). Therefore the ♣ finesse has to be taken first while there still is a ♥ stopper in Dummy.
At trick 3 Declarer leads a small diamond to Dummy's A♦, then (at trick 4) leads Dummy's Q♣ for a direct finesse. North wins the trick with his K♣ and leads another ♥, won by Dummy's A♥.
If Opponents' ♥ are split 53 South will have no hearts left in his hand. Declarer therefore cashes his ♣ tricks ending up in his own hand, then leads his Q♠ for a direct finesse. If the finesse fails and South wins the trick he either can not lead hearts or if he can the ♥ are split 44 and Opponents will only make two heart tricks in total.
Conclusion
When a contract is threatened by one Opponent holding a long suit, give the long suited Opponent the lead first while you still hold a stopper in his suit.

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IBR 15.4  Deals 133  144
Deals 133 to 144 are examples of bidding as outlined in this
lesson.
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© 2013 Michael Furstner
